The BBC has proudly announced that they are the first to deliver a customisable, interactive voice-powered news service to Great Britain, on none other but Amazon’s Alexa.

The difference between the standard BBC Alexa Skill and the interactive service is that users now have the ability to skim through stories and command the smart speaker to “Give me BBC News” when you wish to view it further.

“Smart speakers give us the chance to re-imagine what radio would be like if it were invented today, free from its technical limitations. By making the news interactive on smart speakers, listeners can jump to the stories they need to hear just before rushing out of the house, or, when they have more time, they can delve into a piece and find out more.”

“Delivering the trusted content people expect from the BBC, this new form of audio news comes at an important moment. It will help people navigate through one of the most dramatic news cycles in recent times.” – Mukul Devichand, executive editor, BBC Voice and AI.

Additional content is also accessible from the app, including:

  • Specialist pieces: Reporting, interviews and features from BBC News’ specialist reporters and correspondents who add new angles on the day’s emerging stories
  • Flexible bulletins: Listeners can get news bulletins at a time and length that suits them – not restricted by the BBC’s schedules, and can explore longer interviews or stories that are forced to make way for breaking news
  • The BBC archive: Where relevant, clips and interviews from the BBC’s vast radio archive will supplement current stories, providing invaluable context and voices from the past.

Like the standard app, session persistence between the Alexa skill and the BBC Sounds App will also remain as standard.  The main advantage of the interactive app has to be the option to access exclusive, extended content- which is otherwise condensed on the standard app.

“A world of opportunities open up once you connect a speaker to the internet and make it interactive. We’re taking advantage of that by combining our world-class content makers and engineers, exploring how this exciting new medium could look and how we can better serve our audiences now and in future.” -Andy Webb, Head of Product, BBC Voice and AI.

Meanwhile, BBC is reportedly “blocking all access to its podcasts on Google search, Google Assistant, and Google Podcasts”, according to Podnews.  Further to this, “no new podcasts have appeared within Google Podcasts since March 19th, and many podcasts have already been removed altogether from the service.”  The reason for this was to contain the podcasts to the BBC Sounds mobile app.

While the app is currently exclusive to Alexa, BBC is only testing the waters before the release of their independent software addition to smart speakers- “Beeb“, sometime next year.

You can find the Interactive News Service under the “Skills and Games” section of your Alexa app.

Source: Voicebot

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