Google wants the Assistant to become a smarter newsreader

Google wants the Assistant to become a smarter newsreader

The voice assistant is taking on radio news with a more personalized service

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Google has collaborated with a range of global news organizations — including the Associated Press and New York Times — to improve the Assistant's ability to read you the daily news.

While Amazon's Alexa has offered such a service for a while now, letting you set up a morning briefing comprised of your favorite news outlets, Google has been a little behind the curve.

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Now though, with the help of 20 news organizations, the Google Assistant will offer an audio news summary, which the company says is better than traditional radio because the content updates through the day based on what the user has already heard.

Say you ask for a morning news briefing from the Google Assistant, then ask again in the afternoon. The Assistant will not read out the same news this second time, but will instead cover breaking stories, or updates to the stories it knows you're already heard.

Instead of traditional radio broadcasts, Google says: "Imagine instead if you could have your own radio, one that's available on-demand, accessible throughout your day, and brings you news about the world and your interests."

The Google Assistant news starts with short recordings of the day's headlines, produced by the organizations involved. These are followed by longer pieces read more like podcasts, for those who want them.

Of course, what news the Assistant gives you can be controlled with voice commands, so it's easy to go back to the previous story, skip ahead, or say you've had enough news for one day. We wouldn't blame you.

Any news company can participate in this service, as Google has built an open specification for the recordings. For companies that don't have audio-recording facilities, the Google News Initiative can be used to help fund the installation of recording equipment for the content the Assistant broadcasts.

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Google says the new audio news service will roll out first to "a limited number of people" via the English-speaking Google Assistant in the US. You can expect the service to expand overseas and to work in other languages soon.

Here is a full list of the news organizations involved a launch:

  • Advance Local
  • American Public Media
  • Associated Press
  • Avios
  • Billboard
  • CNBC
  • CNET
  • KQED
  • McClatchy
  • NBC
  • New York Times
  • Newsy
  • SCMP
  • The Hollywood Reporter
  • TheScore
  • USA Today
  • Washington Post
  • WNYC

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