×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Pandora Brings Voice Controls to Its Mobile Apps

Streaming music service Pandora has launched a new voice mode as part of its mobile apps, allowing users to search for songs, podcasts and more with simple voice commands. The new feature is being made available to a small subset of Pandora’s users at launch, with plans to gradually bring it to all of the service’s 69 million monthly active users.

Pandora is launching voice control in part as a response to the growing popularity of smart speakers, explained chief product officer Chris Phillips in a recent interview with Variety. “Pandora is already used by millions of people on voice-enabled devices,” he said.

But it’s not just a growing acceptance of voice control. Smart speakers and better AI assistants are also changing the way consumers are interacting with voice control, period. Previously, consumers were using voice input for very specific requests. “It’s almost like talking to a robot,” said Phillips.

As voice technology advances, consumers are starting to expect technology to be more conversational, and talk to devices like they would talk to their friends. “More and more consumers are going to become more and more vague,” Phillips said.

Pandora is responding to this trend by combining natural language processing and machine learning it licensed from Soundhound with its own music genome data to match up even vague requests with the right soundtrack.

For instance, the service may deduct from previous listening that a user has kids, and play family-friendly tunes when he or she asks for a cooking playlist. Or it may respond with two completely different soundtracks to the very same request from two different users. “We are applying personalization to all the asks,” Phillips said.

Users who have been enrolled into the new voice mode can access it on their iOS or Android phone with the wake phrase “Hey Pandora.” It allows you to ask for the title of a song, direct Pandora to add a song to a playlist, or to play a specific playlist or podcast. Users can even thumb-up a song by saying “Pandora, I like this song.”

Pandora’s voice efforts are for now focused on mobile, but Phillips said that the company plans to bring as much of this functionality as possible to smart speakers as well. However, he admitted that it’s a bit harder for the company to innovate on third-party devices, as smart speaker makers only share limited data with service providers.

For instance, Pandora doesn’t know what happened if a smart speaker fails to recognize a voice command. However, being able to respond to failures is especially important to improve a voice-based service, and make sure that users aren’t forced to jump through extra hoops just to get to the result they want. Said Phillips: “Nobody wants to voice-babysit their speaker.”

More Digital

  • JUMP camera

    Google Is Shutting Down Its Jump VR Video Program

    Google will shut down Jump, its cloud-based video stitching service, this summer. The company emailed creators Friday afternoon to tell them that Jump would be shuttered on June 28, and detailed plans for the shut-down on its website as well. In its email, Google justified the closure of Jump with the emergence of new video [...]

  • Relix Live Music Conference

    Relix Live Music Conference Puts Spotlight on Gender Parity, Privacy

    The third annual Relix Live Music Conference took place at New York’s Brooklyn Bowl earlier this week. The two-day confab, which featured panels and Q&As by executives from such companies as Live Nation, Q Prime, SiriusXM, Bowery Presents, Glassnote Music, Shorefire Media and Splice, among many others, offered a fascinating and honest look at the [...]

  • Spotify Tests 'Car Thing' Audio Adapter

    Spotify Starts Testing In-Car Hardware

    Spotify is carefully taking a first step into the consumer hardware space: The company has begun to test a new in-car device that lets users access music and podcasts with voice commands, it revealed in a blog post Friday morning. “Car Thing,” as the device is being called for now, is only being tested in [...]

  • Hannah-Hart-BuzzFeed-Tasty-Edible-History

    BuzzFeed's Tasty Taps Hannah Hart for Food-History Show on Facebook Watch

    YouTube star and food fanatic Hannah Hart is combining her passions for cuisine and history in a new series for BuzzFeed’s Tasty on Facebook Watch. The eight-episode show, “Edible History,” premieres Sunday, May 19, at 8 a.m PT, on BuzzFeed’s Tasty Presents show page on Facebook Watch, with episodes released weekly. In each episode (7-12 [...]

  • YouTube Music

    Songza Co-Founders Have Left YouTube Music Ahead of Google Play Music Shut-Down

    The three co-founders of Songza, a music curation startup acquired by Google in  2014, have left YouTube Music, Variety has learned. Former Songza CEO Elias Roman, former chief product officer Elliott Breece and former chief operating officer Peter Asbill all quietly transitioned to new positions at Google’s startup incubator Area 120 in March. A YouTube [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content