Spotify may be about to take on the smart speaker market. The music streaming site is testing an in-app assistant, dubbed'Spotify Voice', that allows users to control their music with their voice. The trial has sparked rumours that the firm is about to release a smart speaker to take on the likes of Apple's HomePod and Amazon's Echo. If the rumours are true, it would allow Spotify to put a microphone and potentially camera in every user's home. Spotify may be about to take on the smart speaker market.
If you're used to saying "Hey Siri" or "Hey Google" to launch features, Spotify is cooking up a wake phrase you might like. According to GSM Arena, it started rolling out to some users on Android, showing up via a notification. If you tap on it, you'll be prompted to give Spotify permission to record audio on your device. After you do that, you'll be able to invoke Spotify with phrases such as "Hey Spotify, play The Beatles." The feature can be turned off and on in the app's Settings, where you can also choose the voice Spotify will use to speak back to you.
Smart speakers have become one of the hottest markets in consumer tech. Amazon Echos and Google Homes were among the most popular gifts this past holiday season, and that sales bump solidified Amazon as the leader in the space. Apple has since struggled to catch up, with its recently launched HomePod, but other hardware makers have rushed to get in on the hype, integrating Alexa and Google Assistant into their own headphones, wearables, and speakers. Each of the three big smart-speaker platforms includes its own integrated music player--Amazon Prime Music, Google Play Music, and Apple Music. But for 159 million music lovers, another app is their player of choice: Spotify.
Spotify is beginning to roll out a re-design of its mobile app to select users of its free-tier service. The changes, which include more control over playlists, will allow Spotify to make its free version behave more like a Premium account in a bid to boost user numbers. The update is currently in testing and has only been rolled out to a small amount of users. The search page has had a slight overhaul, with colourful tabs indicating different genres and a glimpse at what artists are contained in each playlist. The revamped bottom bar is a new'Premium' button to allow users to easily upgrade to the premium version of the app Rumours of the mobile update were unveiled last week by Bloomberg.
If you haven't already put your CD sleeves in the closet, now's the time. Streaming services offer more music and far better tools to find and play it. You can use a voice assistant to search for songs or tune into playlists created specifically to match your tastes. You can discover a giant world of music you might never have found, even browsing the best record store. Which streaming service should you use, though?