BBC voice assistant on Windows 10 uses Microsoft's Azure AI

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What you need to know

  • The BBC launched a voice assistant app in preview called "Beeb."
  • The app utilizes Azure AI and can understand a range of accents.
  • The app is available in beta through the Microsoft Store.

The BBC launched a new voice assistant today that strives to understand people with different accents. It's called "Beeb" and it's available in beta through the Microsoft Store (opens in new tab). Beeb utilizes Microsoft's Azure AI services for its infrastructure, which allows the BBC to build up an assistant without having to create its own AI.

As pointed out by Engadget, many digital assistants struggle with accents. The UK has a wide range of accents that can vary dramatically after travelling just a few miles. Beeb strives to understand these accents better than other digital assistants.

Windows Insiders based in the UK should be able to download the beta app from the Microsoft Store, though we had a hard time getting it on our systems. In its initial release, Beeb supports listening to on-demand radio, music mixes, podcasts, news, and weather updates. You can also ask it to tell jokes, which it will gladly provide from BBC comedy writers. It also has facts selected by QI's Sandi Toksvig.

At least for now, the app doesn't seem like it's trying to compete with digital assistant giants like Alexa and Google Assistant. Instead, it allows people in the UK to listen to BBC content using an assistant that understands accents better than the competition.

Sean Endicott
News Writer and apps editor

Sean Endicott brings nearly a decade of experience covering Microsoft and Windows news to Windows Central. He joined our team in 2017 as an app reviewer and now heads up our day-to-day news coverage. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at sean.endicott@futurenet.com (opens in new tab).

5 Comments
  • I got the email but the link doesn't work
  • Oh yes, i heard about this, nice of the BEEB to spend money on this and yet they are pleading poverty, so glad I don't contribute.
  • Seems like a worthwhile investment to me whether or not they're having budget problems.
  • i presume you don't live in the U.K, but even if you do i will still explain how the BBc is funded for other non-UK posters.
    The BBC is funded by a licence fee, which anyone who watches Tv as it is broadcast, even if it is not a BBC channel they still must pay £157 year for the privilege., witch converts to around $197US. People like myself who don't watch live TV, we don't have to pay it, but boy do we get hassled about it as if we are criminals and they don't believe that we don't watch TV. also iplayer is out of bounds if the licence fee is not paid, which is fine by me. so most people are pushed to support the BBC.
    True they do have a commercial side, but without the licence fee they would be dead in the water.
    so when they spend out money on stuff like this and then they plead poverty in that they can not afford to give free TV licences anymore to the over 75's, then it make me angry. How is is it a worthwhile investment, how is it going to make them money? It is the BBC trying to be relevant, and has gone years ago, the BBc is now the Bloated broadcast corporation.
    The BBc should now change to a subscription and lets see how many people will take it out.
  • I'm not talking about the funding structure of the BBC. I'm talking about how this initiative supposedlyisn't worth any investment. To me it clearly is. You'd think you'd want voice AI to be able to understand all the accents in your country or region. Why would I be angry that any public institution would want to invest in that?