The NYT gets into voice with 5 new Alexa skills, including a daily briefing, quiz and more

The New York Times is expanding its efforts around audio programming and voice assistants, the company announced today. The NYT says its launching a daily flash briefing for Alexa devices, as well as an interactive news quiz, and in an interesting twist it will be introducing enhanced coverage in its Sunday paper that prompts readers to launch dedicated Alexa skills to learn more about the stories theyre reading.
On weekdays, the Times will offer a short news briefing for Alexa devices thats hosted byMichael Barbaro of The NYTs popular podcast, The Daily. Listeners can enable the Alexa skill, then ask to hear the top stories by saying Alexa, whats my Flash Briefing, or Alexa, whats in the news?, for example.
For now, the flash briefing consists of the last portion of The Daily where Barbaro says Heres what else you need to know today.Over time, the company plans to expand upon that with new stories and sound bites.
Also new today is a daily news quiz, created by The Dailys producers. This will be available on Fridays, and is triggered by saying Alexa, play The New York Times News Quiz.
The quiz will ask questions that listeners answer to then be told if they are right or wrong. The skill will provide additional context, as well.
While daily briefing skills and quizzes are among the most popular types of Alexa skills today, the way the paper is experimenting with its Sunday paper contest is interesting.
Skill discovery is still a huge challenge on voice assistants. And even when you enable a skill, you may forget to use it or not remember what its called, if its not something you launch regularly.
The NYTs solution is to add Alexa prompts to its printed edition of the Sunday paper, for select sections including travel, music, and books.
Starting this weekend, a special section will feature Travels annual list off 52 Places to Go. Readers can choose to listen to the Timess new Traveler writer Sebastian Modak, as he visits all the places on the list, by saying, Alexa, open the 52 Places Traveler.
In addition, a command to open The Pop Music Roundup will offer a voice round-up from Times pop music editor Caryn Ganz, while saying Alexa, get book recommendations from The New York Times will trigger Alexa to tell you what the papers book critics are reading and recommend.
All three of these Alexa skills will continue beyond this weekend and will include fresh content.
Weve only just begun to explore the ways that voice technology can bring Times journalism to our audience, where and how they want it, said Monica Drake, assistant managing editor, The New York Times, in a statement about the Alexa skills. This project is a great starting point in this effort as we begin to experiment the ways voice can work in conjunction with stayed mediums like print while also exploring native Times experiences like the flash briefing and interactive news quiz, built specifically for voice services, she added.
The NYT already offered some of its news through Alexa and other voice assistants prior to today, as its podcast The Daily has been available across platforms. But this is the first time it has rolled out dedicated Alexa skills like this.
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