Alexa Flash Briefing and Michigan NewsAmazon Alexa can be enhanced with “Skills” that are much like add-on apps. Users can add easily additional Skills to Alexa and there are thousands of free and paid Skills available that perform stand-alone functionality or integrate with other cloud services like Spotify. Developers can even create custom Skills.

A particular use case I have for audio assistants like Alexa, Google Home and Siri is to publish news content to these platforms. So far, Alexa seems to be supporting this functionality best with its Flash Briefing Skill. Our website developers at work deployed a Skill to read the RSS feeds from our website.

Below is a demo recording of my daily Flash Briefing, beginning with the New York Times headlines and subsequently headlines from University of Michigan News (skip to about the 5 minute mark). I was hoping to show a comparison between a produced audio podcast versus Alexa simply reading an RSS feed.

I noticed a few issues with it, including duplicate stories, content (from our website) not playing in the correct publishing order, and playing photo captions as part of the article content. There may be a few tweaks we could make to the Skill or RSS feed that could alleviate these issues, but these are my initial findings so far.

Stay tuned!