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

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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.

BBC iPlayer1
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.

Top Rated Comments

Moonjumper Avatar
17 months ago
The BBC keeps expanding into new areas when it is already in a questionable funding environment. I'm sure the over 75s who will soon have to start paying the licence fee will not be happy at this.

The BBC is supposed to provide a service that would not otherwise exist, not compete with commercial enterprises. The BBC has no valid reason to exist beyond providing broadcasts (or related services) that would not happen if they did not exist. This does not meet that.
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
WBRacing Avatar
17 months ago

The BBC keeps expanding into new areas when it is already in a questionable funding environment. I'm sure the over 75s who will soon have to start paying the licence fee will not be happy at this.

The BBC is supposed to provide a service that would not otherwise exist, not compete with commercial enterprises. The BBC has no valid reason to exist beyond providing broadcasts (or related services) that would not happen if they did not exist. This does not meet that.

They pay big salaries to some, like Jeremy Clarkson, which made sense in his case as Top Gear was sold globally, meaning they got a massive return on their investment.

So how exactly do they recoup that money with presenters like Gary Lineker (£1.75m pa), a man who in-between posting left-wing tweets, sits in a seat and presents footage of other people playing football?

The BBC News website is a travesty of journalism these days as well. Glorified headlines, manipulated statistical graphs to create hysteria and regularly quoting isolated tweets with virtually no likes in articles, as if they represent the feelings of many.

The BBC has lost all integrity and perspective.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
fivenotrump Avatar
17 months ago
The BBC squanders millions on failed experiments. A recent example is the huge amount spent developing the hopeless Sounds app. As is usually the case, publicly funded entities are happy to chuck the taxpayers’ cash around with apparently little thought or oversight.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
BruceEBonus Avatar
17 months ago
The BBC is a joke. Extreme left wing. With agenda driven staffing. And subject matter. London centric. And unbelievably wasteful in presenter numbers. They have three women on one
show which ironically is called Rip Off Britain. They have over a dozen weather presenters and even more sports presenters. Their programmes are dumbing down daily to reflect the exhausted line up of politically correct scripting. Their mainstays like Strictly and Apprentice out stayed their tired formats years ago but the indoctrinated
watchers have nothing else but Facebook to prove theyre alive so watch it they will. And don't get me started on the scandal of how shockingly bad their weather forecasting is. A national joke. But well. It's the BBC innit. What's that? A voice software ecognition thing. Well recognise this. You're crap. You're no longer what you were. And it might set you better to look a bit newer home. Get rid of half the presenters. Stop paying them obscene pay amounts. And rethink banning free licences for the over 75s. Not all of them are Hunniford. Somerville Or Rippon.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Duncan-UK Avatar
17 months ago

The BBC keeps expanding into new areas when it is already in a questionable funding environment. I'm sure the over 75s who will soon have to start paying the licence fee will not be happy at this.

The BBC is supposed to provide a service that would not otherwise exist, not compete with commercial enterprises. The BBC has no valid reason to exist beyond providing broadcasts (or related services) that would not happen if they did not exist. This does not meet that.

If the BBC didn’t compete with commercial enterprises then it would have ceased to exist decades ago. Public service broadcasting is not the weary ghetto you make out. Arguably the commercial sector would be even worse than it is now without having had a high class BBC “keeping it honest”.

Commercial enterprises should not have a free ride. I’m glad British children get CBeebies as opposed to a diet of non-UK sugar coated stuff.

That said there appears to be few obvious reasons why the BBC are considering this. It sounds like someone had a few too many drinks at the Edinburgh TV festival and it’s been spun as an Alexa competitor.

Of course if it did happen then they wouldn’t use the word “hey” before Beeb. Nobody in the UK uses the word hey like this. It’s cringeworthy to have to say it to a HomePod in the (relative) privacy of your own home, let along in public to an iOS device. Don’t think Tim Apple knows this however...
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
nnoble Avatar
17 months ago
A welcome feature, already widely available in other areas, that will allow easier access to existing content for a wide range of listeners including the elderly and others who may suffer from impaired vision and, or mobility. Since the Sounds App replaced the old and ailing Radio Player it has opened up a window to a wealth of content. I don't have a television but do pay the licence fee and personally, it provides value for money. The BBC in general is worth much more than the sum of its parts.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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