Hey Google, play me the news.
What you need to know
- Google is adding a new way to get your daily news fix.
- The company is implementing an algorithm that automatically curates audio news based on your interests and profile.
- You can trigger Your News Update — what Google calls the feature — by saying, “Hey Google, play me the news.”
Google sees a huge opportunity in developing audio content for its users — its latest blog ever refers to the ‘audio web’ — and it’s making a rather significant change to how it provides audio news to users. You could already access audio feeds from a variety of publishers through Assistant, a feature that was added last year, but what’s changed now is that Assistant can intelligently sort and curate the news for you.
Previously, you had to select specific publishers to subscribe to, and when you asked Assistant to play you the news, it’d simply play the latest hour-long segment from each publisher, in order. Think of that as listening to an entire album from an artist, before proceeding to a whole album from another artist. With ‘Your News Update’ — what Google’s calling the new way of consuming audio news — Google takes all that audio and uses its machine learning chops to figure out the different topics an hour-long broadcast of NPR may touch upon. It then extracts the different stories from that whole and plays you short clips of only what it believes are the most relevant subjects to you, based on your interests, location, user history, and preferences. Think of this as a Spotify playlist made specifically for you, combining songs from all your favorite artists.
Google’s also looking to make sure you don’t just stay in your bubble, as the revamped news format will no longer be restricted to only the news sources you follow. It’ll also source stories from the entire breadth of content from its many official partners — Al Jazeera, South China Morning Post, CNN, Wired, Reuters, and more — to identify the most important developments at the moment and include them in your feed, even if you aren’t subscribed to a particular news source.
You can enable the new format by navigating to the ‘You’ tab in Assistant’s settings. There, select ‘News’ and change your News playlist format to ‘Your News Update.’ If you’re in the U.S. — Google says international expansion is coming next year — you should now be able to access the new audio experience by asking Assistant to “play the news.” It’ll start off with shorter stories to quickly bring you up to date with the latest developments in the world before proceeding to longer deep-dive content thereafter. Before each story, Assistant will identify the publisher from which it is sourced.
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