“Hey Beeb, play Peaky Blinders”, BBC to launch Amazon Alexa rival

The BBC is planning to launch an Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant rival – and it’ll be tuned for regional accents.

The BBC’s new smart assistant is going to be called Beeb, but don’t expect to use it for turning on your living room lights. Beeb will be specifically focused on programming and online service-related commands.

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According to the BBC an in-house team is working on Beeb and the public service broadcaster has begun recording voices from staff across the UK to best understand regional accents.

The BBC does not plan to launch a standalone product in the vein of an Amazon Echo or Google Home. Beeb will be integrated into BBC’s website, the iPlayer app on smart TVs and will be available to manufacturers to integrate into third party products.

The wake word for Beeb will be just that – “Beeb”. Along with not appearing to be the goal of the product, Beeb will have limited functions due to it being created by a relatively small in-house team.

BBC products like iPlayer are already able to be controlled by other smart assistants but Beeb appears to be part of the corporation’s ongoing mission to bring more operations in-house – allowing them to collect data. The BBC recently launched its own podcast app – BBC Sounds – including some exclusive content. 

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The BBC has been looking to modernise its offerings – particularly iPlayer – as it looks to take on strong competitors like Amazon Prime Video and Netflix.

The BBC finally came to an agreement with UK watchdog Ofcom to be able to host shows on iPlayer for 12 months after their air date – rather than the current 30-day limit.

Match of the Day got an iPlayer boost for this current season of football. The Saturday edition of Match of the Day will now be available from earlier on Sunday night – previously it was available until between midnight and early on a Monday morning.

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