What you need to know
- Google brings Your News Update to the Podcasts app.
- It's a smart audio playlist of personalised news stories read out by a natural sounding voice.
- It is being made available only to U.S. listeners at the moment.
The Google Podcasts app is adding a new feature that previously used to be an Assistant exclusive, the "Your News Update" feature. That feature would previously aggregate and read out a mix of news stories Google thinks you'd be interested in on a Nest Mini or other Google-Assistant enabled smart speaker.
Google says that the Your News Update podcasts are customized based on what data it has on you, like your location, interests, and preferences. "If you're a music fan living in Los Angeles, for example, you might hear a local story on Governor Gavin Newsom's latest announcement, and then a review of the latest Katy Perry album, followed by a deep dive of the upcoming election," said Liz Gannes, Product Manager of News.
Google has also done some work so that the generated news bulletin sounds less like a robot and more like a real person.
To help you listen to text-based stories more easily, this feature uses new text-to-speech voices that sound more natural and well-suited for reading the news—think of it as our version of a newscaster. This new voice model was trained on reading longer segments of text and goes beyond just reading words out loud by incorporating voice pitch, sound length, and stress on certain words and syllables. With this new technology, we can convert a wealth of content to audio for listeners while giving it a human touch.
We're all used to music apps generating a mix based on your interests, but a playlist created for Podcasts like this is a little novel. As it's a U.S exclusive, not everyone will be able to try it, but Google says U.S. customers should be able to get access to it now.