How-To

Setup and Customize your Amazon Alexa Flash Briefing

If you have an Amazon Alexa device like the Echo or Echo Dot, the Flash News Briefing skill is a way to get caught up on the news. Here’s how to set it up and customize it.

One of my favorite features of Amazon’s voice controlled speakers, the Echo and Echo Dot, is the Alexa News Flash skill. Out of the box, it plays you a quick news briefing from standard news sources. What you probably didn’t know however was that you can customize your Alexa Flash Briefing with literally thousands of skills, tailored perfectly to the news you want. Here’s how it all works and how to set it up.

Customize What You Have

In the Alexa app on your mobile device or the web version, head to Settings.  Scroll down to Flash Briefing and see what’s already there. Everything will be turned on, and you’ll get just the basics unless you’ve configured it.

Amazon Alexa 2017 02 13 13 44 34

If you think you’d like a briefing in the future, but not now, just toggle it off. If you want to permanently disable a Flash Briefing skill, you’ll need to head over to the Skills section in the app and then tap Your Skills.  Find the skill you want to disable and then tap Disable Skill. You don’t delete the skill, which makes sense since nothing installs on your Alexa device.

When I’m going to be listening to the Flash Briefing for a while (maybe I’m doing laundry or cooking), I’ll turn on a few more briefings to keep me company.  That’s a quick toggle in the app rather than heading over to the Skills section and enabling a skill.

Flash Briefings are Account Specific

Unlike Google Home, Alexa lets you switch accounts.  That means you don’t have to share news stories.  I share my Echo and Dot with other members of the house. To get just my stuff, I always ask it to switch to my account before she starts the briefing.  If you aren’t sure whose account you are in, just ask Alexa “Who am I?

Finding New Flash Briefings

As of this writing, Amazon has thousands of sources for flash briefings.  The sources they include can be hyper-local like your local news station. Amazon also has specific topics like tech or business, or general info.  Many of these sources, like NPR, are podcasts provided by Tune-In.  These briefings are audio files Alexa plays for you.  Other sources like the AP news stories are read in Alexa’s voice.  I wish Amazon told you which ones were audio files because her voice drones on after a while.  I hope I get to change her voice like I can with Siri.  Right now, you can just change the language to the English (UK) or German.

To find other briefings, you can check Amazon’s Skills area on the web, or tap Get more Flash Briefing content in the same Settings >> Flash Briefing area in the app.

Amazon Alexa 2017 02 13 14 44 34

Change the Order Of Your Briefings

Since some briefings are longer than others, I put the most important briefings first.  These are usually the shorter ones.  From the same Settings >> Flash Briefing area in the app, tap Edit Order to organize the sequence of briefings.

You’ll need to tap the hamburger icon on the right-hand side and drag each briefing to the position you want.  When you’re finished, don’t forget to tap Done.

Amazon Alexa 2017 02 13 13 52 05

Skip the Briefings While Listening

Some briefings change hourly, while others change daily or weekly.  Instead of wasting your time listening to a story you’ve already heard, just tell Alexa to skip that briefing.  She’ll go to the next one on your list.  Sometimes she won’t hear you because she’s talking. Either speak louder or just tap the listen button on the top of your device.

My Briefings

Just to give you someplace to start, here are my briefings and the order:

I’m constantly changing the order and the briefings depending on what’s new, and my whim. All this takes about 20-25 minutes. That’s enough time for me to let the dog out, make my morning coffee and empty the dishwasher.


1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. When Alexa Flash Briefing came out there initially wasn’t much to write about. I can see that this feature has expanded itself nicely. Thanks for the info, I will share it on my website!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 

To Top