This week, Amazon started rolling out a new way to listen to the news on Alexa-enabled devices. Now when you want to hear news from your smart speaker in the US you’ll be able to ask for long-form news in addition to the short flash briefings that are already available. Engadget reports that audio news content will be available from Bloomberg, CNBC, CNN, Fox News, NPR, and Newsy while CNBC and Newsy will also be able to show you video content on a screen-equipped Alexa device.
The way you access the new briefings will vary depending on whether you’ve already got a flash briefing set up for Alexa. If you haven’t, then you can simply say, “Alexa, play news” and the voice assistant will ask you to pick your news source for long-form content. However, if you’ve previously set up flash briefings then you’ll need to specify an outlet in order to get the long-form briefing by specifying an outlet and saying, “Alexa, play news from CNN” for example.
Since these new briefings are longer and more detailed than the flash briefings that Alexa has previously offered, there are playback controls to skip through each news segment. Simply say “Alexa, skip” or “Alexa, next” to move on. You can change your preferred news provider in the “Flash Briefing” section of the Alexa app’s settings.
Surveys have previously suggested that while almost half of smart speaker owners in the UK and the US use their devices for the news, far fewer see it as their speaker’s most important piece of functionality. However, now that Amazon has built the functionality into the core Alexa service that could change. Previously the likes of NPR and The New York Times have needed to use optional Alexa skills to offer more detailed news coverage.
As well as these long-form news briefings, Amazon also recently rolled out a new newscaster voice for Alexa, which allows the voice assistant to read out your daily news briefings with a more natural, human-like cadence. The long-form news, however, features audio pre-recorded by each news organization.