There doesn’t seem to be a lot of information available on how to access CBC content using Siri on HomePod and HomePod mini, so I decided to put together a guide based on my experience and research. Last updated March 2023.
All results below are from tests on my 2018 HomePod stereo pair running HomePod Software Version 16.3.2 with the (subsequently withdrawn) new Home architecture on March 3, 2023.
I bought my first HomePod in June 2018. I listen mostly to Apple Music, along with some podcasts — and CBC news and radio. More than half of my interaction with HomePod is via voice.
CBC has several pages addressing HomePod support:
- How can I use Siri to play CBC? (last updated circa mid- 2020)
- Do I have to enable anything on my Apple HomePod? (last updated circa 2019)
- How to play CBC Radio on your new smart speaker (December 2018)
Someone, somewhere — CBC, TuneIn, and/or Apple — seems regularly to be tweaking many of these commands, as there are changes every month. But there tend to be as many regressions as improvements.
Here’s a review of the commands provided on those pages, and their current status.
|Page (above)||“Hey Siri …”||Result|
|1||“… play CBC Radio.”||In Vancouver: Success. Was previously and correctly playing CBC Radio One Vancouver, but with incorrect feedback like “Here’s a station inspired by CBC Radio One Vancouver on Apple Music.” Now I get “Now playing CBC Radio One Vancouver, provided by TuneIn” — assume this is using my location.|
In Ottawa, 2023-03: Plays The Debaters podcast.
|1||“… play the latest news from CBC.”||Failure. “Okay. Quirks and Quarks from CBC Radio Podcasts now playing.”|
When I first started this page, I got “The World This Hour” podcast.
|2, 3||“… play CBC Radio news.”||Failure. “Okay. Quirks and Quarks from CBC Radio Podcasts coming up.”|
|2, 3||“… play CBC Radio 1.”||Failure. This was playing CBC Radio One Vancouver until March 2023, when, oddly, I got CBC Radio One Victoria.|
|2||“… play CBC Radio Music.”||Success. Plays CBC Music Vancouver (again, this is likely using my location). In January 2023 it had been playing The Debaters after working for a few months.|
In Ottawa, 2023-03: Plays The Debaters.
On the 2018 page (3), there is a video with Piya Chattopadhyay demonstrating the “play CBC Radio One” command. The video ends by promoting a url, cbc.ca/smart, which as of this writing only has instructions for Amazon Alexa.
Page (2) states “We will continue to work on our Apple implementation of the voice experience and will announce late in 2019 when it’s ready to go. Stay tuned!” Page (3) says “New experiences are coming in 2019.”
Communications with CBC
I wrote to CBC in June 2019, and received the following from CBC Audience Services:
“CBC Radio One is limited to the Ottawa feed on HomePod. CBC Music is not officially supported on HomePod either. All a work in progress and changing constantly. We are continually working on improvements and upgrades on all digital platforms.”
There is a lot more CBC content Siri on HomePod can access besides Ottawa Radio One (see below). But since that message, CBC had stopped responding to emails or tweets on the subject until, quite unexpectedly, an email arrived July 11, 2022, which stated in part:
“This is a known issue which we are currently investigating. Please read the following CBC Help Centre article referring to this issue: NEW Issues connection to CBC Radio networks on internet devices [apparently updated in early 2023, though it doesn’t appear there were changes]. We do apologize for any inconvenience.”
It’s also unclear who has responsibility for ensuring that Siri can be used to access CBC content. The page sent to me above says to “reach out to the software support team for your device or service and ask them to contact CBC directly.” But is this TuneIn (the service that provides radio to Apple Music and hence via HomePod)? Apple? I replied with all of these questions, but in a response sent July 19, 2022, only got back “As the article link from our help centre says:” with the first and third paragraphs of the above page quoted, and “That’s all I can give you for the moment.”
It’s not clear whether by “this” they were referring to issues with HomePod in general — every time I email or tweet CBC I include a link to this page, but have no way of knowing whether they’ve looked at it — or some specific issue, perhaps the recent problem with CBC Music Vancouver.
Siri Command Reference
Particularly with the introduction of the HomePod mini, not to mention the second-generation full-size HomePod, these issues would seem to be a significant oversight on the part of CBC. But in the meantime, I’ve discovered through trial and error that there are other commands that work, over and above the few documented on the original web pages from 2018-20. I also looked at the TuneIn pages for CBC stations and music. The following is my analysis of what plays based on various commands. It’s worth noting that some results may be affected by my location, Vancouver; thanks to ThiefClashRoyale for doing some tests from Ottawa in March 2023. (I have omitted podcasts, since they can be asked for directly; some generic commands like “play the CBC news” happen to redirect to podcasts.)
|“… switch to CBC news.”||“Sorry, I’m unable to switch your news source preferences to CBC.”||Used to work, and still plays The World This Hour when I ask “…what’s my update?”|
|“… play the CBC news.”||Quirks and Quarks||Until February 2023, this usually worked. This used to — and I think probably should — play The World This Hour. It played The World at Six podcast for a couple of months until the November 2022 update.|
|“… play CBC Music.”||CBC Radio One Vancouver||Was playing CBC Radio One Vancouver for me in August 2022, perhaps based on my location; regressed to CBC Radio One Toronto in October 2022, then in February 2023 shifted to Montreal, then Vancouver in March 2023.|
In Ottawa: Plays CBC Radio Toronto.
|“… play CBC Music Vancouver.”||Success||Appears to have been fixed as of August 8, 2022.|
As of July-August 2022, I was getting Barbara Peatland: Canadian Composers Portraits. Starting around July 2022, resulted in “Now play CBC Music Vancouver, Provided by TuneIn. … Sorry, there was a problem with Apple Music.”
For a few weeks in May 2021, this no longer worked as CBC Music Vancouver disappeared from TuneIn. I tweeted at CBC and TuneIn and only TuneIn responded. They wrote, “CBC Music Vancouver have decided to restrict their stream within mobile device users only. This means CBC Music Vancouver can’t be accessed through smart speakers or receiver such as HomePod.” However, a week or so later the station had been restored to TuneIn. But this makes me wonder whether there might be a movement at CBC to try to force people to use their Listen app.
|“… play CBC Music Halifax.”||Success||Fixed some time between July and August 2022; for a time I got back, “Now playing CBC Music Halifax … Sorry, there was a problem with Apple Music.”|
|“… play CBC Music Edmonton.”||Success||Fixed some time between July and August 2022; for a time I got back, “Now playing CBC Music Edmonton … Sorry, there was a problem with Apple Music.”|
|“… play CBC Music Winnipeg.”||Success||Fixed some time between July and August 2022; for a time I got back, “Now playing CBC Music Winnipeg … Sorry, there was a problem with Apple Music.”|
|“… play CBC Music Toronto.”||CBC Radio One Toronto||Wrong result, and with the 1974–1992 CBC logo. For a couple of years this played Norma Beecroft: Improvvisazioni Concertanti No. 1, From Dreams of Brass, Collage ’76, Jeu II, Accordion Play (Canadian Composers Portraits) [link].|
|“… play CBC Radio One.”||CBC Radio One Victoria||In Vancouver: Was working for a while, then in March 2023 switched to Victoria — close to Vancouver, but no cigar.|
In Ottawa, 2023-03: Plays CBC Radio Victoria.
|“… play CBC Radio One Vancouver.”||Success|
|“… play CBC Radio One St. John’s.”||Success||St. John’s, Newfoundland|
|“… play CBC Radio One Saint John.”||Success||Saint John, New Brunswick. In October 2022 I noticed that this is no longer listed on TuneIn’s Stream CBC page, but it still works.|
|“… play CBC Radio One Kelowna.”||Success|
|“… play CBC Radio One Toronto.”||Success||Station artwork is, for some reason, the 1974–1992 CBC logo rather than the CBC Radio One logo that all the other stations use.|
|“… play CBC Radio One London.”||Success|
|“… play CBC Radio One Kitchener-Waterloo.”||Success|
|“… play CBC Radio One Halifax.”||Success|
|“… play CBC Radio One Moncton.”||Success|
|“… play CBC Radio One Edmonton.”||Success|
|“… play CBC Radio One Prince George.”||Success|
|“… play CBC Radio One Ottawa.”||The Debaters Season 13 Episode 2||In Vancouver: This was initially working, then for a while I was getting “I couldn’t find CBC Radio One Ottawa in your Apple Music library.”|
In Ottawa, 2023-03: fails. Siri can’t find it in Apple Music.
|“… play CBC Radio One Winnipeg.”||Success|
|“… play CBC Radio One Sudbury.”||Success||In October 2022 I noticed that this is no longer listed on TuneIn’s Stream CBC page, but it still works.|
|“… play CBC Radio One Montreal.”||Success||In October 2022 I noticed that this is no longer listed on TuneIn’s Stream CBC page, but it still works.|
|“… play CBC Radio One Victoria.”||Success|
|“… play CBC Radio One Charlottetown.”||Success||In October 2022 I noticed that this is no longer listed on TuneIn’s Stream CBC page, but it still works.|
|“… play CBC Radio One Regina.”||Success||In October 2022 I noticed that this is no longer listed on TuneIn’s Stream CBC page, but it still works.|
|“… play CBC Radio One Fredericton.”||Success||In October 2022 I noticed that this is no longer listed on TuneIn’s Stream CBC page, but it still works.|
|“… play CBC Radio One Thunder Bay.”||Success||In October 2022 I noticed that this is no longer listed on TuneIn’s Stream CBC page, but it still works.|
|“… play CBC Radio One Goose Bay”||Success||In September 2022, I checked TuneIn’s Stream CBC page for the first time in a few months, and discovered this station had been added. Bonus!|
|“… play CBC Radio One Barrie”||Success||Added to TuneIn circa September 2022, but Siri wasn’t able to find it until the February 2023 update.|
|“… play CBC Radio One Kingston”||Sean Paul: No Lie (feat. Dua Lipa)||Was new to TuneIn some time in 2022 but couldn’t be accessed by Siri on HomePod until I got this track in March 2023.|
|“… play CBC Radio One Peterborough”||Success||In October 2022, I checked TuneIn’s Stream CBC page, and discovered this station had been added — it resulted in an error until the November 2022 update.|
|“… play CBC Radio One Saskatoon”||Success||Added some time in September 2022.|
There’s clearly some room for improvement here. CBC should at least fix the incorrect mappings. It’s unclear to me what the relationship is between an entity like CBC and Apple, but there’s a blurb and link on Apple’s Siri for Developers page for integration of a streaming service with HomePod (I don’t currently have an Apple Developer account, so I can’t view the page).
Please let me know if you have any updates or other information, and I will try to keep this page current.
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