What you need to know

  • BBC has announced that it will be launching a digital voice assistant in 2020.
  • The digital voice assistant from BBC will work on all smartphones, TVs, and smart speakers.
  • Analysts believe BBC's digital voice assistant may not be able to compete with the existing voice assistants from Amazon, Google, and Apple.

UK public broadcaster BBC has announced that it is working on a digital voice assistant called Beeb. According to the corporation, Beeb will work on all popular smart speakers, TVs, and phones. It is planned to be launched sometime next year.

In a statement to The Guardian, a BBC spokesperson said:

With an assistant of its own, the BBC will have the freedom to experiment with new programmes, features and experiences without someone else's permission to build it in a certain way. It will also allow the BBC to be much more ambitious in the content and features that listeners can enjoy.

BBC is reportedly inviting its staff all around the UK to record their voices to help train its in-house voice assistant to understand even the strongest regional accents. Unlike digital voice assistants from U.S.-based tech giants, however, Beeb will not support a wide range of functions.

It is being designed only to help users find and view BBC content using just their voice. Additionally, the assistant will help "develop new forms of interactive programming." Analysts, however, aren't convinced BBC can compete with tech giants such as Google, Amazon, and Apple. Not only is Beeb being developed by a team that is much smaller but the corporation doesn't have the same resources as the US-based tech giants.

The announcement comes as the corporation is pulling its radio streams from TuneIn, after the U.S. company refused to share listener information with the BBC. People in the UK will have to access BBC radio streams from the corporation's app or using BBC's Alexa skill from August 30.

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