PSA: HomePod Supports Live Radio Requests, But Even UK Users Can't Stream Most BBC Stations
Apple has been rolling out HomePod support for live radio requests to Siri over the last few months, and now users in several countries are reporting success when asking their Apple smart speaker to play live radio stations.
After announcing the feature at WWDC in June, Apple said it would launch on September 30, but the company recently removed the date from its HomePod product page, suggesting an official global rollout is basically complete.
Apple began testing the live radio request feature in July, starting in Germany, but station requests to Siri on HomePod are now being routinely fulfilled in many countries including the U.S. and the U.K., despite the fact that Apple has yet to issue a HomePod-specific iOS 13 software update. Using a Siri request, HomePod owners should be able to choose from around 100,000 radio stations, according to Apple, with the broadcast catalog drawn from iHeartRadio, Radio.com, and TuneIn.
MacRumors has been testing the Siri feature on HomePod after updating iOS devices to 13.1.2, and it's still a bit finicky, although it's unclear whether that's due to the HomePod software still languishing on 12.4. Radio requests have to be specifically worded – without key words like "radio station" in the question, Siri will often revert to an Apple Music search. Also, only some users appear to be seeing a new Broadcast Radio section in the Music app's Radio tab that lists available stations.
In addition, HomePod owners in the United Kingdom who were hoping to listen to BBC Radio will be disappointed to learn that the British broadcaster has removed its flagship stations from the TuneIn catalog, after the U.S.-based radio app refused to share information on its listeners.
The BBC now wants people to access its content through BBC apps and via Alexa so that it can collect analytics and better understand what people are consuming, but unfortunately that has left only a handful of local BBC stations and the BBC World Service directly accessible through HomePod.
According to Apple's website, additional HomePod features specific to iOS 13, including multi-user support, music handoff, and Ambient Sounds, will not launch until "later this fall."