Apple just took the wraps off of a couple of new audio features in Apple News, one of which is geared toward generating interest in its News+ subscription service. Can this new feature get people interested in Apple’s paid tier of News?
First off, we have the new News+ Audio feature, which offers a selection of spoken articles from the Apple News+ collection of publications. While I’m not sure it will bring in a flood of new subscribers, this new feature could help the service hang onto some people by making magazine and periodical content easier to consume on the go.
I’ll be honest. Even though I really like having access to a lot of the content that I get with News+, I struggle to find time to take advantage of it all. I’ve very busy at work and on the go a lot. Having some of this content available in audio format would make it a lot easier for me to consume it. I listen to podcasts all the time while driving to and from work and to out of town job sites and would have no problem adding interesting audio articles into that rotation. If Apple’s editors do a good job of curating this content, I will definitely use this.
The trick for Apple is going to be making a wide enough selection of spoken articles available to get a larger number of people interested. The initial offering of audio content is pretty narrow in focus, so they still have work to do. Apple will need to broaden the range of what’s available to interest someone like me.
Apple is also releasing a new daily new Podcast called Apple News Today. This new audio feature is free to all News users through the app’s new Audio tab, or you can subscribe in Apple’s Podcasts app. New York-based journalists Shumita Basu and Duarte Geraldino will host the morning news show, which will feature content and stories from publishers that work with Apple News.
Apple is also rolling out a new Local News feature on top of the new audio content. This will start with four metro areas in the US: New York City, San Francisco, Houston and Los Angeles. Apple will have editors in each local area to curate content and cover that region. This is a nice start, but the death of local news is more of a problem in smaller and mid-sized markets like where I live. Hopefully Apple will expand this feature over time to include many of these areas, as well. That would definitely set News+ apart in a good way.
These features all sound great and the new audio stories and local content should help News+ grab and hold a few new subscribers. However, if Apple really wants to bolster News+ and get people using it, making it part of a services bundle is the best way to make that happen. Until then, these new features will probably be limited to a small positive impact.