There are many people who prefer getting their news through their ears but most of the content on the Internet is, more often than not, delivered in written form to be read. There are always screen readers and text-to-speech engines but we’re still far from the ideal of not making them sound artificial (unless that’s actually your thing). Audio content is still some people’s preferred medium and Apple will attempt to cater to them with a new Audio section for its News+ subscribers probably coming as early as June or July.
It almost feels like forever but it was only last year that Apple launched its News+ subscription as part of its focus on becoming a more services-oriented company. It got news publishers on board, despite how controversial the initial idea was, but now it wants to expand that beyond the more direct print medium. Rumors have been swirling that Apple is planning to have audio versions available and it seems that the pieces are all in place.
9to5Mac discovered that the latest iOS 13.5.5 beta actually had the feature already installed, just hidden from the public’s eyes. It’s located inside the regular Apple News app which just gains a new Audio tab. This tab will be available to both News+ subscribers and non-subscribers but the latter group will be limited to audio previews only.
Paying News+ subscribers, however, have access to the whole shebang. They can either tap the Play button in the corner to play all recent news or they can tap on a single item to focus on that. The latter will bring up an all too familiar media player, complete with cover art for the news source.
As with News+ itself, this audio feature has been rather controversial at least for publishers. Apple naturally maintains it’s a win-win situation and will even handle the production, hiring actors to read longer pieces. Publishers, however, are a bit skeptical and foresee lower profits instead.