Google has some existing news for Home, Nest Hub, and Nest Mini owners. Literally.
The Californian company has announced a new upgrade to its voice-powered gadgets that will bring personalised audio news playlists. To enable this useful new feature, Google will use its all-powerful algorithms and crates of user data to tee-up news stories from around the web that it thinks will be tailor-made to your tastes and interests.
Known as Your News Update, the audio briefing will include a mixture of top headlines and smaller stories from across the globe that Google believes will interest you, based on the sort of things you read online, or ask the Google Assistant to look-up. The briefing will be refreshed each time you can the talkative assistant for a news update.
Google has partnered with a number of news organisations in the United States for the audio briefing, including The Washington Post, CNN, Fox News, and CBS Local.
Until now, Google Home devices have been able to play audio briefings of the news – but users have to select the outlet beforehand and prioritise the order in the Google Home app. So, you could have a daily briefing of BBC News, followed by Sky News. But Google wouldn’t make any editorial decision. When you ask for the news, the smart assistant would simply get the latest audio briefings from each of the outlets and then play them in your specified order.
With the latest update, Google’s software can play a mixture of stories – from an international news story that it think is relevant to you, followed by a story on a sport team you’re always asking the Google Assistant to check-on during matches. Before each story plays, the Assistant will tell you the name of the news outlet that wrote the story that’s about to play.
Google lets you pick between those two very different methods. So, if you’d rather that your web history wasn’t trawled to try to serve-up your morning news, you can stick with the more rudimentary earlier version of the feature, dubbed News Briefings.
The Mountain View-based technology firm says it has partnered with a large number of news outlets in the United States with a broad range of political views to avoid users being stuck in their “echo chamber,” where their world views are never challenged and they only hear stories that affirm their existing opinions. This isn’t an issue limited to the Google Assistant and this new personalised news option, but something that plagues almost every social media platform and algorithm-based news option.
Not only that, but with Google Assistant only serving-up topics that interest you, it’s possible you could be woefully misinformed when it comes to hugely-important subject matter that is not something you would search for on Google, or ask the Assistant – thereby not registering as one of your interests on Google’s servers. That could mean you missing important world events that impact your life, or make you a more responsible citizen or better informed voter.
For now, Google’s new personalised audio feed is only available in the United States in English. More languages and more countries will be added next year, the company has promised.
How Do You Enable Personalised Audio News On Google Home?
If you’re in the US, head to the Google Home app, load-up your profile and then tap “News” under the “You” tab. Next up, hit “Change Your Playlist Format” under the “News Playlist Format” in that menu. By default, it will be set to the previous option – “News Briefings” – if you want the personalised briefings based on your favourite topics, tap “Your News Update”.