Digital Gabe
Cutting Edge Commentary On All Things Media

“Hey Pandora” Launches A New Era Of Voice Functionality

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Yesterday Pandora announced a new tech breakthrough which will allow for voice control of its mobile app.  Listeners can now activate Voice Mode on Pandora’s iOS and Android apps by giving the wake phrase “Hey Pandora . . .”  This will unlock basic voice navigation commands such as changing stations, changing volume or skipping songs.  It’ll also respond to interactive queries like “What song is this?”  So if you hear a song you like but don’t recognize it you can ask Pandora, and even tell the app to add the song to one of your existing playlists.

Voice activation on an audio platform like Pandora is really a no-brainer.  Listeners are already in an audio-first environment, so why not remove the screen altogether?  In 2018 both Spotify and Apple Music released voice control functionality for their apps.  However this functionality is only available to their subscribers, compared to Pandora who will roll out voice control to its entire user base.  Given that over 90% of Pandora’s audience uses the free ad-supported tier, you have to wonder if this is the set up move for voice-controlled ads.  Hmmm . . .


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