Amazon Alexa now offers long-form news coverage in addition to Flash Briefings – TechCrunch

One of the best uses of Amazon Alexa is its ability to quickly summarize today's headlines through its customized "Flash Briefing" knowledge. Now, Amazon is launching a new feature that allows Alexa device owners to get more thorough news from their preferred news provider, with this week's "long-form news" launch. At the moment, the new feature is working with news from Bloomberg, CNBC, CNN, Fox News, Newsy and NPR, Amazon says.

Getting the news is already a top voice activity among smart speaker owners. According to a survey by Adobe in 2018, 46 percent of voice assistant users are asking their smart news speaker. And today's Alexa Skill Store lists more than 5000 voice applications in its news category, indicating a certain level of consumer demand for this type of content.

But sometimes users will have more than just a set of quick headlines. This is where Alexa's in-depth news feature aims to help.

Amazon says that voice commands like "Alexa, tell me the news", "Alexa player news" or "Alexa play news from …" followed by the sources name, will now launch in-depth news sessions with stories cured by the news provider. This can include stories from NPR's most popular radio programs, CNN's top headlines, Newsy's news news and others.

Both Newsy and CNBC will offer video device stories on Alexa devices with a screen, such as Echo Show and Echo Spot. The rest will just be sound.

Customers can listen or watch all the news stories or move through the different stories with verbal commands such as "Alexa, Next" or "Alexa, Skip" to jump on.

When you ask Alexa for the news for the first time, the assistant will ask for your preferred supplier. You can also change this later on the same Settings screen where you are currently configuring your Flash Briefing preferences.

This is a bit confusing because the paragraph is still labeled Flash Briefing, rather than something more appropriate, such as "News" or "News Settings", for example.

In addition, the process of using the new feature is slightly different for those customers who have already used the Flash Briefing, which is also confusing.

If a Flash Briefing User asks Alexa for the news, the assistant will continue to play the Flash Briefing you have already configured and is accustomed to access by saying things like "Alexa what is the news?" or "Alexa, tell me the news", including

If you would rather hear long-form version of the news, you must specify a source by saying the specific command: "Alexa, Games news from CNN "(or whatever news provider you pref.)

Amazon seems to understand that this process is a bit clunky, telling us that there are still" early days "for the feature and it will" continue to listen to feedback from customers and develop the experience over time. "

The launch is a great effort that smart speaker owners will do more than stream music, manage their smart homes or perform other minor tasks such as setting alarms and timers, or for example using lists. Instead, it sees Amazon Alexa, to some extent, taking the place of looking at a nightly news release. It is an option that many of today's management cutters do not have, as they have provided pay-TV for just Netflix or another mix for streaming apps.

Longer content content can also give Amazon a place to put ad units in the future if it wanted to go that route.

The news feature in long-form began to roll out to customers in the US on Monday.

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