Sunday, 11 March 2018 23:01

ABC Australia radio stations come to Aussies using HomePod, iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch and Apple TV


If you have any iOS device capable of accessing Siri, and you live in Australia, you can now ask Siri on HomePod, iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, Apple Watch and Macs to play the top ABC radio stations.

Siri in Australia can now play the top ABC radio stations on Siri-capable devices, with those stations being ABC Radio in Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, Perth, Adelaide, Darwin and Hobart.

Siri can also play ABC Radio National, Triple J Radio, ABC Grandstand Radio and ABC Classic Radio.

This is great news for HomePod users who want to listen to actual live radio, rather than only being able to access short news clips from ABC, SBS, Seven News, Fox Sports or Apple Music news.

In the info I received about ABC stations coming to HomePod and Siri, all of Apple's Siri-capable devices were mentioned except Macs, but I tried asking Siri to play ABC stations on Mac too, and the request opened up iTunes and played the stations there too.

It adds to the flexibility of HomePod, which I am reviewing separately to this article, and will hopefully see even more radio stations added to Siri and Apple Music.

Currently, the News section of the Radio app inside the iOS Music app also lists the BBC World Service, Bloomberg Radio, PRI News and Insights Radio, while there are plenty of other radio genres besides news, from a range of music stations, Beats 1, a Kids/Family genre and a workout genre, too.

Given that Telstra's post-paid customers and Boost Mobile pre-paid customers also get access to Apple Music streaming data free, and have access to data free radio such as Beast 1, this should, in theory, mean that listening to these new ABC stations should be data-free for those customers, too.

I have reached out to Telstra's spokespeople to confirm this is the case, and will update this article accordingly.

If so, it's an extra welcome benefit of data-free Apple Music, but if not, and you were already streaming these stations on your phone or home Wi-Fi, then nothing changes from a listening standpoint, and you continue consuming the data you were happy to consume and pay for before with whichever app you choose to use.

So, to activate Siri playing a range of ABC radio stations, here's the command you need to speak, whichever device you're activating Siri on:

"Hey Siri, Play ABC News Radio"
“Hey Siri, Play Radio National”
“Hey Siri, Play triple j radio”
“Hey Siri, Play ABC Grandstand radio”
“Hey Siri, Play ABC Classic radio”
“Hey Siri, Play ABC Radio Sydney”
“Hey Siri, Play ABC Radio Melbourne”
“Hey Siri, Play ABC Radio Brisbane”
“Hey Siri, Play ABC Radio Perth”
“Hey Siri, Play ABC Radio Adelaide”
“Hey Siri, Play ABC Radio Canberra”
“Hey Siri, Play ABC Radio Darwin”
“Hey Siri, Play ABC Radio Hobart"

I noticed that if I (or my Mum, who is greatly enjoying the HomePod experience and the excellent sound quality) asks Siri to play ABC News on HomePod, which is the 3-or-so minute news bulletin, and then you ask Siri to play ABC NewsRadio, Siri can get confused and will play the short bulletin again.

So in this case I ask Siri to "Play ABC Radio News Radio," and then Siri plays the proper ABC NewsRadio station.

I wish Siri could also play other radio stations, such as 2GB, 2CC, 3AW, 4BC or even FM stations, although with Apple Music able to play any songs and music genre stations you want, music stations are less of an issue than stations on the Macquarie Network in Australia.

And yes, I can use any number of radio apps to stream any number of global stations, and use AirPlay to send those stations to HomePod, but being able to ask Siri to do this is effortless, and while it's hardly difficult to open an app and press an on-screen button or two, voice control is very cool.

That said, adding ABC stations is a great step forward, and helps to close the gap with its competitors like Google Home, which with TuneIn installed on an Android device connected to Google Home, can play many more radio stations with a simple voice command than Siri can - or at least, can for now.

For those wondering what a HomePod can do, you'll find that it can do a very great deal as you'll see here, and that this is only just the beginning, as it is for all voice-first devices now on the market.

So, it's great to see ABC's stable of major stations now on HomePod and any other Siri-enabled device, and I hope there are plenty more radio stations to come!

Image created by me using a screenshot from iPhone X of the Apple Music Radio streaming interface with added screenshots, logo and images from the web. Not an actual or accurate depiction of the Siri or HomePod interface, just some image editing fun. Hey Siri, play some chill music for anyone not chill. 

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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