More and more people rely on in-home technology to get their news. In particular, voice-controlled speakers enabled by AI assistants like Alexa and Siri recently experienced a large surge in usage. According to Forbes, 35.6 million Americans will use a voice-assisted speaker at least once a month in 2017, a 128.9% increase from last year.
With this new technology staple cropping up in homes, the new ways people consume news will alter the way news is presented.
Apple’s newest product, Homepod, will be released in December of this year and will feature the popular iPhone assistant Siri. A recent survey found that 19% of those who own existing Apple devices are ‘very interested’ in buying the HomePod.
The Amazon Echo already offers a customized news experience with “Flash Briefings.” If you ask Alexa ‘what’s my Flash Briefing?’ or ‘what’s the news?’ you will hear local weather, popular broadcasters, and the most popular stories and headlines of the day. Also, users can customize the updates and content on their feed to feature certain media outlets or subjects.
— Amazon (@amazon) July 12, 2017
“Even though a not-great robotic voice may read you the fast headlines,” Brian Heater, Hardware Editor at TechCrunch, said in an interview with Mediafile. “It may be my favorite way for my own needs to get the news in the morning.”
Heater said that devices like Echo and Homepod are a great way to interact passively with the news, like scrolling through a newsfeed, but instead of reading you are listening.
“It may not be too much of a game changer in making a significant change in the way news is consumed,” he said, “but I do think the way the content is presented to the user is pretty similar to Twitter and Facebook in the way of fast headlines.”
What may prove to make voice-controlled news briefings more popular is the customizability. The pre-recorded updates from NPR, BBC and the Economist, as well as other daily reports like TechCrunch’s Pulse report, may soon make getting the news via AI vastly more efficient than other methods.
The trend seems to be catching on. On Wednesday, Buzzfeed News announced the launch of their “Reporting to You” morning brief that “made for smart speakers with hands-free voice services.” With a new and exciting medium like this, there is room for growth within the news industry – perhaps helping resurrect shrinking local news outlets with Echo integration.
Echo is essentially another content delivery device akin to Facebook and Twitter in its use of crowdsourcing information for a specific user. Heater said that the Amazon Echo is just another way to get their products, advertisements and services into people’s homes.
“Amazon recognized a good way to lock into people’s ecosystems,” Heater said. “Similar to the Kindle, you have to buy the books through Amazon to get them on your Kindle. It’s a way to get their Amazon service integrated into people’s homes.”
Heater said that Echo is hugely beneficial for Amazon advertising, and that advertising may look similar to radio and podcast advertising as well as Spotify and Pandora radio advertising models.
The idea of the smart home has become a reality through voice-activated speakers with smart AI voice assistants like Alexa and Siri. Fast updates, reviews and summaries of breaking news are easily accessed with a voice command, a non-traditional way to consume news without reading or turning on the TV (However, Echo can control some smart TVs).
This reinforces the growing popularity of podcasts, and even bolsters the idea of the newsfeed – but through voice rather than visual representation. With the growing popularity of these devices, the next step for consumers is to see how Apple’s HomePod and other devices and companies continue to improve this unique news experience.