Digital assistants hone skills to deliver the news

  • Sunday 16, September 2018 in 10:11 AM
Sharjah 24 – AFP: "What's the news?" has become a familiar refrain for consumers with smart speakers, opening up a new channel for publishers but also raising concerns about the growing influence of tech platforms in media.
Devices such as Amazon's Alexa-powered speakers, Google Home and Apple HomePod are increasingly delivering news flashes and summaries, and giving users the option to get more in-depth news, just by asking.
 
For beleaguered news organizations, voice could be a new channel to connect with consumers seeking updates or specific information on demand.
 
News organizations such as the BBC, Washington Post and National Public Radio are among those having developed "skills" for digital assistants that enable consumers to listen to updates or other reports.
 
"Smart speakers are a potentially rich terrain" for news organizations, said Damian Radcliffe, a journalism professor at the University of Oregon.
 
For consumers, the speakers are being used instead of radio or television for on-demand news. 
 
For struggling news organizations "these technologies create fresh ways to reach news audiences," Radcliffe said.
 
An Adobe Analytics survey found 32 percent of US households use a smart speaker, with most of them using them daily.
 
According to an Edison Research report for NPR, 77 percent of consumers said news was an important reason for owning a smart speaker, and that one in three listened to news briefings.
 
A separate study by Oxford University's Reuters Institute of consumers in the US, Britain, Germany and South Korea found 43 percent used smart speakers to "access the latest news."