Listening to the news is one of the most popular uses for smart speakers and now Google is opening up a new way to catch up on what’s going on in the world.
This week, the tech giant has introduced Your News Update, a new way to listen to the news via the Google Assistant, on smart speakers like the Nest Mini and Nest Hub as well as your Android smartphone.
By saying “Hey Google, play me the news”, you will hear a news update offering a customised look at the headlines based on your interests, location, user history, preferences, as well as the top news stories of the day. Depending on how much time you have to listen to the briefing, Google will start serving up longer-form content that will go into more detail on your interests.
A handful of publications are taking part in the scheme, including the Evening Standard and the Economist. For now, only people in the US will be able to access the briefings, though Google plans to start rolling out the feature internationally from next year.
Google has been working with publishers for nearly two years in order to determine the best way to approach the future of news online. Audio, in particular, is currently the favourite – in the UK nearly six million people tune into podcasts every week, and half of them are under the age of 45. Over in the US, 22 per cent of the population listen to podcasts weekly, demonstrating that we are far from reaching ‘peak’ podcast just yet.
The collaboration with Google on the News on Assistant project is part of the Standard’s commitment to audio news. This year, the organisation has launched a daily news and opinion podcast, The Leader, as well as season two of the tech podcast, Women Tech Charge.
“Audio and voice is becoming an increasingly important way of interacting with the internet,” said the Standard’s executive producer of audio and video, Chris Stone. “The Evening Standard is putting itself at the forefront of this revolution, and having our content accessible via Google Assistant’s audio news service in the United States will help us reach new audiences with our quality journalism.”
David Tomchak, the Standard’s digital editor-in-chief, added: “Innovation is a critical element of the Evening Standard’s long term strategy to reach new audiences. We are delighted to be working with Google on this project and excited by the prospects of where it might take us.”