Alexa adds long-form news delivery service for Echo devices to its flash briefing skills

Alexa adds long-form news delivery service for Echo devices to its flash briefing skills
Alexa has many impressive skills and capabilities developed by Amazon as well as various third-party companies, but one of the most popular hands-free tools available for owners of Echo-branded devices is actually pretty basic and unsophisticated. With "Flash Briefing", you can get your smart speaker to read you short news updates across a variety of topics simply by asking "what's the news?"

Obviously, that's a very convenient first-party Alexa skill for folks that are always in a hurry or are simply interested in the daily headlines and quick summaries of their relevance, but if you want to take a deep dive into any particular topic, now you can do that as well. According to TechCrunch, this "long-form news" feature is already available in the US, although getting it to work properly is somewhat cumbersome for the time being.

On the bright side, Amazon is offering in-depth content from several top news providers right off the bat, including Bloomberg, CNN, CNBC, Fox News, Newsy, and NPR. You'll have to specify the source you want Alexa to play the extended news stories from, which is a little less intuitive than just saying "tell me the news." The latter voice command will still launch a flash briefing session, and bizarrely enough, if you want to change your preferred long-form news service, you'll need to do so by accessing a section in the settings menu of your Alexa app still labeled "Flash Briefing."

Naturally, Amazon plans to "evolve the experience over time" by "continuing to listen to customer feedback." It will definitely be interesting to see if the company can also recruit additional news providers down the line, as well as expand their support for both audio and video content. Of Amazon's six aforementioned partners, only Newsy and CNBC are currently capable of playing video news stories on an Echo Show or Echo Spot.

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