BBC brings radio and podcasts to Amazon Echo with Alexa voice skill

Lynsey Barber
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The BBC will bring services to other smart speakers too (Source: Amazon)

The BBC is embracing voice assistants with the launch of a new skill for the Amazon Echo, which it also plans to bring to bring to other smart speakers in future.

Users can simply ask Alexa to play any BBC radio station or any of its podcasts, such as Desert Island Discs and Brian Cox-hosted The Infinite Monkey Cage, and have the power to pause and resume playback.

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“Smart speakers are an exciting new way of interacting with audio content," said the BBC's chief technology and product officer Matthew Postgate.

"They’re a natural fit for the BBC as millions of people enjoy and rely on our audio programmes every day. Today we’re making sure audiences can find what they love from the BBC on any device they use, through one single and easy-to-use service. But there’s potential to do more and we’re just scratching the surface.”

It's just the latest example of the the BBC developing their service for the new platform which has had a stand out year in 2017. It adds to a BBC news flash skill offering the latest news updates, while the Beeb's R&D team have also experimented, creating an interactive drama series in which the listener can get involved in the story in the style of a "choose your own adventure" story.

The BBC is also planing to bring what it describes as "pop-up" radio stations to the smart speakers for events such as festivals through out the year.

Read more: Sorry Siri: Amazon just snuck Alexa on to every smartphone

Amazon has already stolen a lead in the smart speaker market, but Google also makes an AI powered voice assistant, Google Home, while Apple's version, the Homepod, is set to be released after Christmas.

And the BBC is not the only one exploring their potential, with supermarkets and insurers among the businesses giving it a go. Tesco this year launched a service for ordering shopping on Google Home, while Aviva created a skill to answer burning questions about finances.

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