Photo: Apple

Apple is adding new audio features to both its free Apple News and subscription Apple News+ services, including a short daily podcast, produced and narrated by its own editorial staff.

Why it matters: Apple is doubling down on its commitment to human and editorial curation of news content, something its rival tech partners have mostly been slower to do.

  • The podcast, called "Apple News Today," will be seven to eight minutes long, and offered free to Apple News users on weekdays.
  • It will be hosted by two former journalists who now work as Apple News editors, Shumita Basu and Duarte Geraldino.
  • "Apple News Today" will exist exclusively within the Apple News app, meaning Apple won't make it available on rival platforms like Spotify.

Apple will also produce roughly 20 audio stories a week for Apple News+ subscribers, based off narrations of mostly long-form stories from publishing partners.

  • Most audio stories will be narrated by professional voice actors, selected in conjunction with publishers, though others may be narrated by the story's author if they have a compelling personal story to tell.
  • Participating publishers include Essence, Esquire, Fast Company, GQ, New York magazine, Sports Illustrated, TIME, Vanity Fair, Vogue and  Wired — as well as newspapers, including the Wall Street Journal and the Los Angeles Times.  
  • The company will offer free audio samples to non-subscribers within Apple News, presumably to lure them into eventually becoming Apple News + subscribers.

The company says it's also adding a local news tab, curated by its editorial team and personalized with artificial intelligence.

  • That will be available Wednesday in the Bay Area, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco, and will feature content on different local news topics, including sports, dining, weather and politics.
  • Apple says it's added more local and regional newspapers to the Apple News+ catalog, including the Charlotte Observer, the Idaho Statesman, and the Kansas City Star, among others.

The big picture: Apple debuted Apple News+ last year, in an attempt to double down on the subscription services it offered to users around the globe, who are increasingly spending less on the tech giant's hardware.

  • The app received some initial pushback from publishers that worried that the deal terms wouldn't help them monetize their content well enough. Last month, the New York Times made waves when it said it would leave Apple News.
  • Apple's goal is to deepen its relationship with customers who use its other products, primarily its hardware.

Go deeper: Apple doubles down on news podcasts amid coronavirus pandemic

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Ina Fried, author of Login
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