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Quick Hits: Amazon Alexa skill growth. Freedom for a podcasting inmate. Hollywood and podcasts.

Brief news items and worthy reads from around the web.

Alexa skill numbers continue to explode: Amazon has seen skyrocketing growth in the number of skills its Alexa voice assistant supports. At the latest count from Voicebot.ai, the number of Alexa skills in the U.S. more than doubled over 2018. In the UK, the number of skills grew by 233% and Germany posted growth of 152%. These figures demonstrate that more developers are moving to recognize the potential of voice controls and are working to accommodate this technology.

Ear Hustle host’s sentence is commuted: Ear Hustle made its debut onto the podcast scene by winning Radiotopia’s inaugural Podquest competition. The show is hosted by Earlonne Woods and Antwan Williams, both inmates at San Quentin State Prison, and artist/professor Nigel Poor. This week, Woods’ sentence was commuted and his work on the podcast was cited as a motivating factor. Woods has now been hired as a full-time producer for the show.

More on Hollywood’s podcast fascination: We’ve traced Hollywood’s rising interest for at least a year, and now The New York Times has a feature offering its take on the trend. “It’s a very active process to download a podcast,” said Ben Silverman, co-CEO of Propagate, which has worked on adaptations of Sword and Scale and Up and Vanished. “And so we hope that fans of the podcasts are likely to be active enough to come and watch the show, once it gets produced.”

Anna Washenko

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