Google is making a significant change to how Google Assistant delivers audio news to users. Starting this week, Assistant's new feature, called "Your News Update", brings you an algorithmically determined feed of audio news. The feed is curated based on your interests, location, history, and preferences, as well as the latest national headlines. Simply put, it is similar to Facebook or Google's news feed.
Earlier, Google Assistant would present news only from the sources you select. And whenever you ask Assistant to play the news, it'd simply play the latest available audio news from each publisher, which may be several hours long segments in some cases. The news is presented in the order you select during the initial setup. You need to manually move to the news from the next publisher, or wait till the current one finishes.
With "Your New Update", Google Assistant will now present you with a series of short audio news updates from various sources. You no longer need to listen through an hourlong broadcast from a publisher. Instead, you will get a tailored playlist of short news stories from various publishers. The playlist refreshes every time you play it.
"Your New Update" starts off with shorter stories to quickly catch you up with all the latest happenings around the world before presenting you some deeper dives. You can even pause the news briefing. Google Assistant will also identify the publisher before reading out a story.
Google's initial partners include Al Jazeera, ABC, Billboard, Cheddar, CNN, Fox News Radio, PBS, Evening Standard, The Washington Post, USA Today, Reuters, and more. The company has paid these partners to create their stories in a specific format so that the Google Assistant can identify the content of those stories by reading that specific metadata.
Google building audio web
Google sees a huge opportunity in podcasting and digital audio sectors. So much so that the company even makes a reference to the "audio web", which it believes will be similar to the text web of the 1990s. And while "Your New Update" is much more hands-off, it may not always be good. This algorithmic feed of news may sometimes skip an important piece of news just because it deems it to be not suitable for you. It should get better at determining what is right for you and what is not with time, though. Thankfully, you can choose between either the new system of news delivery or the existing one.
"Your New Update" is rolling out first in English in the United States. Google plans to expand it internationally next year. You can find it in the News section under the "You" tab in the Google Assistant app. There, you can choose between "Your New Update" or the existing "News briefings." You can then simply say "Hey Google, play me the news" to listen to the latest news. You can also add news to one of your Assistant Routines.