Google has just introduced a new audio news briefing format for Assistant called "Your News Update." When you ask Assistant to tell you the news, instead of playing a series of whole podcasts that you've chosen, it will bring together bits and pieces of produced audio from a number of sources that you've curated. If you want to try it out, just go to the settings menu within Google Assistant, hit "News," then tap on your "News playlist format" to make the change.
You'll then be asked to choose from a variety of sources — participating partners include big names like ABC, CBS, Fox News, Associated Press, and Reuters, local broadcaster ownership groups like Scripps, Tegna, Entercom, and Gatehouse Media, plus individual public media organizations like WBUR, WBEZ, Marketplace, and the PBS NewsHour.
So, how does it sound when you ask Google Assistant to "play me then news?"
Well, it starts with an assortment of four or five stories from different sources, each of them introduced with a quick sign-on of some sort — either clipped from a longer version of the media the story came from or provided by separate announcer. Here, the story selection is tinted by your location and interests as picked up by Google — for example, I live in Boston and am interested in technology, so I got a blurb about Verizon activating its 5G network downtown from WBZ NewsRadio. No story lasts longer than 90 seconds. After those headlines, Assistant transitions over to lengthier local, national, and international stories running anywhere from 2 to 10 minutes each.
Almost all of the stories I got in my first news update came from programming that aired yesterday like Marketplace or, in one case, a segment from a local news station's online stream from 1 p.m. — 24-hours-old by the time I heard it. Occasionally, you'll get mini-podcasts like WIRED's Spoken Word Edition or USA TODAY's Talking Tech. I even got some pieces from sources I did not select such as the South China Morning Post. All told, I was fed 15 stories totaling about an hour's worth of of content. We can be sure some aspects of this formatting will change as time goes on.
If you want to try "Your News Update" out, it's available on Assistant in English for the U.S. now and it may go international in 2020.