Back in November, Google Assistant augmented user-curated “News briefings” with a personalized “mix of top headlines and stories based on your interests.” “Your News Update” is now coming to Google Podcasts, while more natural text-to-speech is also available.
Instead of having to talk to Assistant to get the News Update, users can visit Google Podcasts. Once rolled out — starting in the US, the first item in the “Explore” tab will be a card for the “fresh playlist.” It features blue cover art with the Google News icon in the top-left corner. Next to the “Subscribe” button is information about when it was last updated.
Afterward, you get a playlist of short clips from shows, with the ability to “Manage news sources” at any time. Google News factors interests, location, user history, 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.
Your News Update highlights both national and local publishers, with Google continuing that push with “Hey Google, play local news” or “Hey Google, play news about [your city].” This mix features “native audio,” as well as text-to-speech stories.
To improve the TTS experience, Google touts new 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.
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