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Google to personalize audio-based news over assistant software

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Listening to the news over a Google Home smart speaker is going to get more useful. On Thursday, Google announced a new effort to personalize the audio news feed available through the company’s digital assistant software.

The goal behind the project is to create a radio station that caters to your interests, Google product manager Liz Gannes said in a blog post. It’ll also be smart enough to avoid repeating the same new stories you’ve already heard during the day.

The company’s AI-powered algorithms on Google News can already personalize text-based articles for you by looking at what topics you like to read and your search history. Now the tech giant is bringing some of the same technologies to the audio realm.

The company partnered with over a dozen media outlets — including the Associated Press, The Hollywood Reporter and USA Today — to create a prototype that uses Google Assistant to deliver the personalized audio content.

“This new experience will bring you an audio news playlist assembled in that moment, for you,” Gannes said. “It starts with a briefing of top stories and updates on topics you care about, and extends into longer-form content that dives deeper into more stories.”

Google Assistant will also be ready with updated audio news when you access it again throughout the day, whether it be during your commute home or on a jog, she added.

Google’s voice assistant can already deliver audio stories when you ask it to play the news. However, the content is usually taken from television or radio casts. So to improve the experience, Google created new guidelines on how media publishers should create audio stories specifically for its voice assistant software.

As result, expect the new audio experience to deliver shorter and punchier content, with less intro music, and for now, no ads. Google’s guidelines also recommend that media publishers keep their short-format stories around 50 seconds long. Medium-format stories, on the other hand, can last from 2 to 15 minutes.

The company is launching the revamped audio news function to a limited number of Google Assistant users in the US before a wider roll out. For now, it’s only available in English. The company is also inviting interested media publishers to join the project.

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