Apple’s release of the first betas of iOS 12.2 and macOS 10.14.4 yesterday brought a pleasant surprise for users in Canada with the appearance of Apple News, marking the first time that the company’s News app and service has been expanded to a new country in the three years since its initial launch.
Perhaps even more significantly, the release of Apple News in Canada also represents Apple’s first attempt to bring its news service to a foreign language. While Canada is mostly an English-speaking country that largely follows U.K. English, it is officially bilingual, with just over 20 percent of the Canadian population speaking French as their mother tongue, and one entire province, Quebec, where it is the majority official language.
Apple News was initially rolled out solely in the U.S. when it first debuted alongside iOS 9, in September, 2015, however it also very quickly came to Australia and the U.K. when iOS 9.1 was released the following month. Users in Canada decried the lack of Apple News support north of the border from the beginning, with many switching their iPhones to U.S. regional settings to gain access to the service. However, it quickly became apparent that Apple was holding back on launching its news service in any countries that would require working in a language other than English.
It would seem that similar language obstacles were also responsible for delaying the release of Apple’s HomePod speaker in Canada last year — which was only made available around the time as it was also scheduled to go on sale in France. In this case, Apple likely needed to ensure proper French-language support for Siri on the HomePod, and even then Canadian French support was only added to the HomePod in a software update a month or so after the HomePod went on sale in Canada. Apple also encountered similar issues when first rolling out Siri on the iPhone 4S in 2011, although in that case the company chose not to delay availability of the iPhone, but instead simply advise French-Canadian users that they would have to wait for a software update before Siri could speak their language.
While Apple News is still only part of the iOS 12.2 betas for Canadian users, and therefore not yet available to the wider public, the service itself is already up and running, with a Spotlight story featuring Canada’s new food guide and major Canadian news sources such as CBC, CTV, and The Toronto Star available on the platform, alongside French-Canadian news services, including La Presse, Journal de Montreal, CBC Radio-Canada, and numerous topics related to the Province of Quebec and other French-Canadian interests.
On the other hand, Canadian Apple News users are currently finding that availability of U.S. content is much more variable, and seems to be dictated by how widely the publishers themselves have chosen to make their channels available. For example, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, CNN, and TIME are all unavailable on Apple News in Canada, while Bloomberg, The Atlantic, The Washington Post, and others are fine. However, these seem like issues for news outlets to address with their channels and feeds, rather than a limitation of Apple News itself.
Ultimately, though, the rollout of Apple News in Canada, with full support for French-Canadian media, is most important as a signal that Apple is finally poised to expand the service beyond the exclusively English-speaking world.