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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,, 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."

Related Roundups: HomePod, iOS 13, iPadOS
Buyer's Guide: HomePod (Neutral)

Top Rated Comments

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2 weeks ago
WTF BBC? :mad: I support the BBC through my licence fee and should have convenient access to everything the BBC produces. That's all you need to know about me.
Rating: 8 Votes
2 weeks ago
The BBC think they have to act like all the commercial services and grab data from everyone. They are like a sad pantomime IMHO. They should behave like the public service broadcaster they are supposed to and fulfil their remit of being accessible to all licence fee payers, not just the ones who are forced to kowtow to their sad delusions of being Google/Netflix etc. and rapidly spoiling the very aspects that used to make them special.
/rant :p
Rating: 6 Votes
2 weeks ago

Isn't the BBC public radio? They don't need information who their listeners are, because by definition everyone in the UK is.

And anyway, TuneIn is just maintaining a directory. The BBC still gets to know the IP address it's streaming to. TuneIn doesn't know anything more.

You have to pay a tax (called the licence fee) to listen to BBC radio, although its more of an honesty system at the moment. When you use iPlayer it asks if you nave a licence, although the answer is just yes/no, there's no need for proof. Maybe there's a problem with authentication with voice activated systems?

You have to have a BBC licence to watch TV here, even if you don't watch BBC channels, it's quite controversial, especially with the BBC, which is bound by charter to be impartial, taking an increasingly partisan political stance and dealing in 'fake news'.

Axe the Telly Tax!
Rating: 6 Votes
2 weeks ago
Good for Apple to care about privacy. The BBC disappoints in so many ways these days. I grew up listening to it in the 1950s, and have watched with dismay a dismal drop in copy-editorial standards ever since. It remains a good and relatively impartial news source but is no longer the only one. Its refusal to let me listen to it without letting it have my usage data (I know, I know, it's ostensibly de-identified) leaves me and others like me with a not-so-difficult choice to go elsewhere.
Rating: 6 Votes
2 weeks ago

You have to pay a tax (called the licence fee) to listen to BBC radio, ........

'fake news'.

Rating: 5 Votes
2 weeks ago

Living in the UK - my HomePod still doesn't see an update available - I've checked every iOS release day and am running 13.1.2 now but going to Home > Updates it says no updates available.

Trying to listen to BBC R4 or R1 results in it playing podcast episodes instead of live radio,


IOS 13 for Homepod is not out yet, launches latter this fall (or autumn for us brits).
Rating: 5 Votes
2 weeks ago
OK, just to clarify - Part of the Licence Fee goes towards funding BBC radio services - but (unlike TV) the License Fee is not required in order to listen to BBC radio stations.

So we (Brits who pay for the TV Licence) do pay towards BBC radio services, but the TV Licence is not required to listen to those Radio Stations. So it is possible to not pay towards them and listen to them, but if you pay for the TV License you are paying towards their funding.

Hope that helps everyone!

Here's a page that shows a pie chart of how the Licence fee is split (2017-18):
[URL unfurl="true"][/URL]
Rating: 4 Votes
2 weeks ago
I excited for handoff support later this year. I think it’s so neat that you’ll be able to wave your iPhone over a HomePod when walking through the door and it will continue playing the song where you left off?
Rating: 3 Votes
2 weeks ago

Public broadcaster yes . Free to air no - The BBC are obligated to know where all their listeners are to ENSURE YOU PAY THE TV LICENSE FEE.

You do not need a TV License for Radio.

TV License is per household, not per person.

They would like to know where all their watchers and listeners are, hence the reason for the data requests that they wanted from tunein.
Rating: 3 Votes
2 weeks ago
Side effect of this feature - How do we now play the Apple Music radio stations with Siri? Before when I asked HomePod to “Play Chill Radio” it would play Chill Radio from Apple Music which I love! But now it plays a chill radio station from TuneIn! Annoying. I even tried “Play Chill Radio from Apple Music” and it still plays something from TuneIn! Anyone else finding this or know of a way to get HomePod to play stations from Apple Music?
Rating: 3 Votes

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