‘Hey Beeb’ – BBC Developing Voice Assistant for iPlayer App and Website

The BBC has announced its intention to launch its own voice assistant next year to help users find their favorite programs and interact with online services hosted by the public broadcaster.


The voice assistant's working title and wake-word is currently "Beeb," and it will be built into the BBC's website, its iPlayer app and other mobile apps, and made available to manufacturers who want to incorporate the British broadcaster's software.

The BBC said it had no plans to launch a Beeb hardware device, but the voice assistant is being designed to work on existing smart speakers and smart TVs that include the iPlayer app.

BBC staff around the UK will be recording their voices to help train the assistant to recognize different British accents, something that U.S. voice assistants have been known to struggle with.

The BBC said having its own assistant would enable it to "experiment with new programs, features and experiences without someone else's permission to build it in a certain way."

"Much like we did with BBC iPlayer, we want to make sure everyone can benefit from this new technology, and bring people exciting new content, programs and services - in a trusted, easy-to-use way," said a BBC spokesman.

According to The Guardian, from the end of the month BBC radio stations will no longer be available on the popular TuneIn radio app, which is also used by Amazon's Alexa, because the U.S. company refused to share information on listeners of BBC stations.

Instead, the BBC wants people to access its content through BBC apps or via Alexa, in the hope that people log in and it can better understand what people are consuming.


This article, "'Hey Beeb' – BBC Developing Voice Assistant for iPlayer App and Website" first appeared on MacRumors.com

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BBC Sounds App Updated With Apple CarPlay Support

The BBC Sounds mobile app has been updated with CarPlay support, meaning users can now listen to the broadcaster's extensive library of live and on-demand radio, music, and podcasts from their in-car infotainment systems and dashboards.

As noted by Pocket-lint.com, CarPlay and Android Auto support was originally available for iPlayer Radio, which the Sounds app replaced, but this version has extra options and an improved in-car experience.

From the BBC Sounds website:
Here's what you'll see in the new car-friendly view of the BBC Sounds app:
  • Browse: Have a look through our simplified Podcasts, Music Mixes and Recommended for You menus

  • Stations: Listen live to all of the BBC’s national and local radio stations across the UK

  • My Sounds: Easy access to all of the radio programmes, podcasts and music mixes you're subscribed to or added to your Bookmarks

  • Downloads: Offline playback of programmes you've downloaded onto the app
    BBC Sounds was launched in June last year to introduce a more personalized listening experience and bring a new look and feel to the site.
BBC Sounds was launched in June last year to introduce a more personalized listening experience and bring a new look and feel to the site.

The BBC app is designed to learn from the user's listening habits and introduce them to shows and podcasts that they might not otherwise know about.

BBC Sounds is available to download on iPhone and iPad for free from Apple's regional U.K. App Store. [Direct Link]


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New ‘BBC Sounds’ Mobile App Set to Replace BBC iPlayer Radio

The BBC is releasing a new free mobile app today called BBC Sounds, which brings together the broadcaster's extensive library of live and on-demand radio, music, and podcasts within a single audio player interface.

The BBC says the app has been designed to learn from the user's listening habits and introduce them to shows and podcasts that they might not otherwise know about, as Dan Taylor-Watt, head of BBC iPlayer, explains:

"Every user's experience of BBC Sounds will be unique as it's designed to learn from your listening habits, providing one-tap access to the latest episodes of your favorite BBC podcasts and radio shows and introducing you to new audio you wouldn't otherwise have discovered from the 80,000 (yes, really) hours available."
This content is delivered in a "Recommended for you" section, which showcases 10 on-demand shows at any one time, and automatically refreshes based on recent listening.

The live radio section of the app retains the virtual tuning dial used in the BBC iPlayer Radio app, which Sounds will eventually replace, and acts as a portal to all of the BBC's 18 national and 40 local stations.

There are also hand-picked collections of podcasts and on-demand music shows on offer to match the listener's mood, like Funny Chat, Upgrade Your Life, Live Sessions, and Dance Mixes.


Podcast and show categories cover the full gamut of content available, such as hip hop, classical, crime, and science and technology, while a "Continue Listening" section highlights podcasts and radio shows that have only been listened to part-way through, as well as next episodes to consider.

Users can add any individual episode or clip to the "My List" section to listen to later. In addition, subscribing to podcasts and programs generates a personalized feed of the latest episodes via the "My Sounds" section.

The BBC says there are several additional features in the pipeline for Sounds this year, including downloads to enable offline listening, so expect updates in the months ahead.


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Apple CarPlay Support Comes to BBC iPlayer Radio App

The BBC today updated its Radio iPlayer app to support Apple CarPlay, allowing vehicle drivers with the feature to listen to BBC radio more safely when behind the wheel.

A simplified touch interface has been adopted for the new in-car version, designed to be easy to fast-forward in a show or skip through entire episodes.


Apart from CarPlay and Android Auto support, the update also brings additional features to help make radio listening a more personalized in-car experience.

The new app interface is split into four sections titled Following, Listen Later, Downloads, and Stations. The Following section gathers favorited shows for easy access from within CarPlay, Listen Later lists shows tagged by users for future listening, while the Downloads section keeps shows ready for listening offline in areas with poor signal.

The BBC iPlayer Radio app is a free download for U.K. listeners available from the App Store. [Direct Link]


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