Amazon Echo Now Reads You the Top News Headlines

There are times when it is just too much effort to pick up a tablet and catch up on the news, and Amazon’s Echo household assistant is here to help.

Slashgear and Engadget report that over the weekend, Amazon rolled out an update for the Echo so that  it can read you the top headlines.

I can’t see where this feature is specifically mentioned on the Amazon website, but they’re saying that Echo owners can have it read the top news headlines on a given subject:

The Echo isn’t going to read the full articles or provide any kind of in-depth explanation, but when someone is busy around the house, for example, and just wants to get the general idea of what’s happening within a certain category, headlines can be enough to get the gist.

If it is actually reading the text headlines to you (and not simply playing snippets of radio announces from the iHeart Radio app) then this is a huge step towards my holy grail of getting the Echo to read Kindle ebooks to you.

This is the kind of feature I have been anticipating ever since Amazon announced the Echo SDK in March, but the closest it has come to reciting ebooks aloud is in that it can play Audible audiobooks. That feature was added in June 2015.

Did you get a notice about the update? What other features were added?

Nate Hoffelder

View posts by Nate Hoffelder
Nate Hoffelder is the founder of The Digital Reader. He has been blogging about indie authors since 2010 while learning new tech skills weekly. He fixes author sites, and shares what he learns on The Digital Reader's blog. In his spare time, he fosters dogs for A Forever Home, a local rescue group.


  1. fjtorres21 September, 2015

    With Alexa coming to the FireTV STB and Stick, it’s not just the Echo that can do all that. Bigger things are coming.

  2. Michael Anderson21 September, 2015

    I didn’t notice anything or get a notice, but saw it in a commercial last night that made me wonder. Will have to try it tonight.

  3. FSkornia21 September, 2015

    Are you sure this is a “new” feature? I’m pretty certain I was able to have top news stories from several various sources recited to me by my Echo when I first installed it.

    Also, I’m not sure how well the Kindle integration is going to go. They’ve recently added Audible support to the Echo. Also after the huge bruhaha that rose with the first text-to-speech efforts on Kindle, I doubt Amazon wants to wade into that again.

    1. Nate Hoffelder21 September, 2015

      I’m not sure this is new, no. I’m still waiting for first-hand confirmation.

      On the other hand, I can’t find an earlier news article that mentions this.

  4. Tim Wilhoit21 September, 2015

    Echo had “Flash News” on it when I first got it. That may not be the same thing as “Headlines.” Sounds pretty close.

    BTW, I got mine in late November 2014.

    1. Nate Hoffelder21 September, 2015

      Thanks, Tim.

      It’s sounding less and less like this is a new feature.

  5. Anne21 September, 2015

    This has me confused. The what’s new page on Amazon and the app says they made additions to the Flash Briefing settings. My mom uses Flash Briefing on her Echo all the time and the choices used to be NPR News and/or BBC News.

    So now I’m looking at the app and under what’s new the additions appear to be: ABC News, Good Morning America, ESPN Radio, Fox Sports Hourly, Economist, NPR Business Story of the Day, TMZ and Jimmy Kimmel Live.

    But if I go to the flash briefing section of the app there is also a place where you can set to receive news headlines read through text to speech. That is what I think the referenced articles are talking about but I don’t seem to be able to make it work. I sent this info to my mom. She’s the news junkie and is also dedicated enough to figure it out.

    1. Nate Hoffelder21 September, 2015

      Thanks, Anne!

  6. Anne21 September, 2015

    Ok, my mom figured this out and I’ve tested. I think the whole deal is that they have expanded what you get under your flash briefing.

    If you go to the app > settings > flash briefing- You now have far more choices than the previous NPR and/or BBC. The new ones I listed above are tied to either TuneIn or iHeartRadio apps.

    Below that you have another list of eleven other categories. These are the text to speech ones.

    Select all your choices, link to your radio apps (if necessary) and then ask Alexa for your Flash Briefing. She will start at the top of the list and work her way through your choices. You can skip stories, go back and pause through voice commands.

    I think that’s what they’re talking about but I certainly could have missed something. I think the articles are talking about the text to speech stuff and all I saw at Amazon was the new ABC, ESPN, etc. stuff.

  7. Mike in Kansas22 October, 2015

    ABC Headline News no longer is an option. It suddenly disappeared as an option. I asked for my flash briefing, and ABC Headline News was not read, so I checked, and indeed, it had simply disappeared as an option.

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