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How to customize your Alexa speaker's Flash Briefing

The Flash Briefing is one of the more compelling features of Amazon's Alexa speakers. Use these tips for customizing and getting the most out of your Flash Briefing.

Amazon's Alexa-powered speakers are great for a lot of things beyond playing music or changing the color of your smart bulbs. Alexa can play audiobooks or read your Kindle books to you, if you don't have the audiobook version. It can give you the forecast, the latest tech news (with CNET!) or tell you if you should expect traffic on your way to work. And it can, of course, tell you a few jokes.

However, one of the most useful features in Alexa's repertoire is the Flash Briefing, a customizable news update that Alexa can read or play to you. You can choose from a growing list of news sources and rearrange their order to suit your needs.

Customize your Flash Briefing

The Flash Briefing comes with some channels enabled by default, such as NPR, BBC or The Associated Press. Saying, "Alexa, what's in the news?" or "Alexa, play my Flash Briefing" are just two of many ways you can invoke the Flash Briefing.

But before you do that, you'll probably want to add and remove some feeds from the mix.

Adding new sources

Screenshot by Taylor Martin/CNET

The preloaded feeds in the Flash Briefing are just the tip of the iceberg. Many major publications (like us) and local news outlets have added their own feeds to Alexa's Flash Briefing offerings. And the list of feeds is only getting larger.

There are two ways to add new feeds your Flash Briefing. First, go to alexa.amazon.com in a web browser or open the Amazon Alexa app on Android or iOS. Then:

  • Go to Settings > Flash Briefing.
  • Click Get more Flash Briefing content.
  • Scroll or search for a feed that you want to add. You can also sort by relevance, average rating or date added.
  • Click on the link for the feed and click Enable Skill to add it to your Flash Briefing.

Or...

  • Go to Skills.
  • Click the Categories button to the left of the search bar and select News. Alternatively, you can search for "flash briefing" in the search bar. (Not all news skills are Flash Briefing feeds, but many of them are. Just look for the "Alexa, what's my Flash Briefing?" invocation, which will be listed below the name of the skill.)
  • Click on the name of a skill and select Enable Skill to activate it.

Add a weather forecast

If you ask, Alexa will provide the current weather and a forecast. Just say, "Alexa, what's the weather?"

However, you can add this information to your Flash Briefing, to get a weather update alongside the news. Just go to the Skills section within the Alexa settings page or in the Amazon Alexa app and search "weather." Select it to open the skills page and click Enable to add it to your Flash Briefing.

This skill pulls the location data from the speaker configuration, so if you do not have an address set under Settings > [Your device's name] > Device location, the weather information will not be accurate.

Removing unwanted feeds

Screenshot by Taylor Martin/CNET

If you've added a feed you no longer want in your Flash Briefing, you can temporarily toggle it off or remove it from your account completely. To simply toggle the feed off:

  • Click on Settings in the navigation pane to the left.
  • Select Flash Briefing.
  • Click the toggle switch to the right of each feed you want to disable.

Disabled content will be moved to the bottom of the Flash Briefing settings page under the Off section. To reenable any deactivated content, just click the toggle switch.

Some channels have multiple feeds, in which case you will first need to click the downward arrow to expand all feeds and enable each feed that you want added back to your Flash Briefing.

These disabled feeds will remain added to your account. You can leave them in the Off section, but if you want to completely remove them from your Flash Briefing settings page, you must click Get more Flash Briefing content, search for the name of the feed, select it to open the skills page and click Disable Skill.

Reorder feeds

Screenshot by Taylor Martin/CNET

The feeds in your Flash Briefing play in the same order that they are shown in the Flash Briefing settings page, from top to bottom. New feeds added will jump to the top of the list, which might not be where you want that feed to play in the queue.

To change the order in which they are played, in the Amazon Alexa app or at alexa.amazon.com, go to Settings > Flash Briefing and click Edit Order in the top right corner.

Click the hamburger button to the right of a feed, drag it to the position you want it to play in your Flash Briefing and drop it. When you're finished rearranging feeds, click Done in the upper right corner.

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