The Flexible News Cycle & Ecosysten Competition 

Last week, the BBC announced an interactive news service that allows users to expand, skip or hear commentary on their daily news through voice-driven commands. While this development is separate from their development of the Beeb assistant, the feature set shows the company taking advantage of the voice medium to create new functionality for smart speaker users to consume content in more relevant ways, putting them in control of the broadcast. Elsewhere, we see Google and Amazon putting out competing hardware purchase offers to incentivize consumers to purchase a music subscription (via Spotify and Amazon Music respectively). Competition is also heating up in the wearable space with Apple planning to release a pair of augmented reality smart glasses in 2020.

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Rightsize my Briefing

For many smart speaker users, news comes in the form of flash briefings. The BBC has expanded this format by letting a user control how much of a particular news story they want to hear. After hearing the headlines for the day, you can ask for “specialist pieces” to hear from BBC news’ specialists and correspondents or “flexible bulletins” for longer, more detailed reports. The BBC archives will also support the experience by adding historical context to current news stories. They hope this modular approach to news will resonate with users by making it easier to navigate what the BBC is calling “the most dramatic news cycle in recent times.” More on TrustedReviews.com

Free Tunes

Spotify Premium subscribers can now get a free Google Home Mini smart speaker regardless of membership pricing level (except student plans). This is following Google’s mid-October product launch that touted an updated version of the Google Home Mini called the Nest Mini. While this won’t be getting you any of Google’s latest hardware, it’s still a $49 reduction from the Google Home Mini’s listed price. The promotion ends on November 15 and the only catch is allowing Google to link to your Spotify account so the speaker is prepared to play your music when it arrives. Not to be left behind, Amazon started offering a 99c Echo Dot alongside Amazon Music Unlimited Subscriptions.  More on Businessinsider.com

Seeing Becomes Smart

Apple is primed to have a major hardware revamp in 2020, including a pair of augmented reality smart glasses. This is directly answering other major tech competitors that are suspected to be developing similar AR products. Although it isn’t confirmed, it’s expected that the glasses would be powered by Siri. Amazon and Bose both offer frames that allow for voice assistant interaction, but neither have a visual component. With these smart glasses, Apple could be one of the first to market to use a mixed AR and voice approach. More on Voicebot.

Stats Don’t Lie

31% – Consumers using voice to buy goods (data via RetailDive)

25% – Percent of employees who do digital work that will use a virtual assistant on a daily basis by 2021 (data via Financial Times)

Chart of the Week

UK Voice Assistant Users
(data via Codecomputerlove)