If you spend a lot of time stuck in traffic, you're probably listening to the radio for traffic updates. Ordinarily, this means sitting through quite a lot of commercial breaks -- unless you're tuned into a station that doesn't run any, like the non-profit National Public Radio. But traffic reports aren't NPR's main draw.
Among NPR's biggest shows you'll find its long-running trivia show "Wait, Wait... Don't Tell Me!" which gets millions of listeners each week and is consistently one of the most downloaded podcasts in the US. Recorded in front of a live audience, it has a light-hearted, cheeky and loose vibe, and it occasionally scores some interesting guests.
And now you can tackle its trivia questions yourself, thanks to updates for the Google Assistant (download for iOS or Android) and Amazon Alexa (download for iOS or Android). To play on a device that uses Alexa, say "Alexa, open Wait Wait Quiz." If you're using the Google Assistant, the magic voice command is "Hey Google, talk to the Wait Wait Quiz."
(Side note: CNET keeps a running list of every known Google virtual assistant command.)
You don't necessarily need to be using an iPhone or Android device, either. Since the app is tied to virtual assistants instead of specific device platforms, you can play on compatible smart speakers and smart displays as well, like the Amazon Echo Dot or Google Home Hub. Wherever you can use "Hey Google" or "Alexa" voice commands, you should be able to tackle NPR's trivia gauntlet.
However, one advantage of using the mobile app version of the Google Assistant is that you can type your answers instead of speaking them, and the trivia questions are just text, instead of being spoken by the assistant or someone else. This allows you to play in public without looking odd. The Alexa version, however, is fully voiced by show host Peter Sagal and scorekeeper Bill Kurtis.
Notably, the Amazon Alexa version also describes this as a "sneak peek," indicating that something bigger may be on the way. This version also says that if you answer all five questions correctly, you'll be entered into a contest to win a prize. Though given the show's sense of humor, this may not actually be true.
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Launched 20 years ago this month, "Wait, Wait... Don't Tell Me!" is built around quizzing its contestants on current events. But unlike most shows of this type, participants can answer by cracking a joke or relaying an anecdote -- and if their response is entertaining enough, they may still be awarded points, even if they don't give the correct answer.
However, users of the virtual assistant app will only have Google or Alexa as an audience, and these two aren't known for their senses of humor. Maybe that'll come in a future update.
- The long-running NPR trivia show 'Wait, Wait... Don't Tell Me!' now has a version for the Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa.
- For the Alexa version, say "Alexa, open Wait Wait Quiz" to begin. For the Google Assistant version, say "Hey Google, talk to the Wait Wait Quiz."
- Pandora Music mobile app now has its own virtual assistant
- Apple Music to get Amazon Echo and Alexa support in time for the holidays
- Amazon's Alexa virtual assistant: How to delete the data it records
- Pandora launches The Drop, a personalized new-release playlist (CNET)
- Google Assistant to hit 1 billion devices, aims to surround and pound Amazon's Alexa at CES 2019 (ZDNet)
- CES 2019: Google Assistant helps business travelers interpret, get directions, check into flights (TechRepublic)