SiriusXM’s Pandora unveiled Voice Mode, its voice assistant, to Pandora app users on all platforms. This broad rollout took place after a January debut of Voice Mode on about one million iOS and Android devices. The shortcut to Voice Mode can be found in the upper right of the Pandora app screen. Pandora chief product officer Chris Phillips noted that Voice Mode introduces “an even more natural and conversational way for listeners to discover new music … like getting recommendations from a friend who really knows you.”
VentureBeat reports that, “Voice Mode is an assistant styled after Alexa, Cortana, and Siri that affords hands-free control of Pandora’s mobile app … [and is] summoned with the wake phrase ‘Hey Pandora’.” Voice Mode can “answer basic questions about tracks on deck … or add music to your library and start stations tailored to tastes, moods, and activities … [as well as] surface podcasts, albums, and singles by who appeared in them as guests.”
Voice Mode will also control volume and requests to change stations, skip or pause music and answer open-ended requests such as ‘play something different’ or ‘play more like this’.” It will also respond to requests for “a specific artist, song, station, or podcast … and directional requests like ‘add this song to my party playlist’ or ‘I like this’ to give a thumbs-up.”
Pandora reports that, “Voice Mode is chiefly enabled by an in-house curation team and the company’s Music Genome Project, a dataset containing millions of recordings, each with hundreds of attributes.” The assistant relies on SoundHound’s Houndify platform for “the natural language understanding and personalized machine learning search algorithms.”
Spotify offers a similar feature, Spotify Voice, “which provides access to music, podcasts, and videos” and allows users to search for friends, although it’s only accessible to Premium users. According to surveys, “music playback is among the top categories of assistant requests.” Adobe “reports that 70 percent of smart speaker owners have streamed music using an intelligent assistant, and that half do so daily.” The most popular request of voice search services in 2017 was to play music.