Cortana is bucking the trend of smart assistants, which are usually found adding talents, by quietly dropping her ability to recognize songs. Microsoft’s AI, available across on smartphones, desktop and laptop computers, and on the Invoke smart speaker, was previously able to listen to a snippet of music and tell you details about the artist and track.
Now, it’s been spotted, that ability has gone. It’s all down to Microsoft’s decision to axe its music streaming service Groove, which happened at the end of 2017. Originally Zune Music Pass, it was first rebranded as Xbox Music Pass, and then became Groove Music just prior to the launch of Windows 10.
For Groove Music Pass subscribers, it meant an end to access of their streaming songs. Microsoft hooked up with Spotify to transition such users over to the other streaming service, though the Groove Music app remains as a more basic media player. A little-known side effect, however, was that Microsoft was relying on Groove for its song-spotting capabilities.
The change has been confirmed by Jason Deakins, Windows Central spotted, one of the software engineers on Microsoft’s Cortana team, on Twitter. “Due to the shutdown of the Groove Music service,” he explained to a user seeing the new “service retired” notice, “Cortana music recognition has also been retired.
Hi John. What you are seeing is expected. Due to the shutdown of the Groove Music service Cortana music recognition has also been retired.
— Jason Deakins (@JasonDeakins) January 3, 2018
It’s unclear what Microsoft will do, if it actually plans to replace the functionality. Shazam is probably the best-known service offering song recognition, but it abandoned the Windows Store in early 2017, before being acquired by Apple later in the year. Google has its own system, which it debuted on the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL, and which flags up recognized songs on the smartphones’ lock screens.
Overall, it’s an example of how the changing cloud services ecosystem can have unforeseen consequences on the devices we’re starting to take for granted. While this latest feature omission is affecting Cortana, Microsoft isn’t the only one to fall victim to the trend. Amazon’s Echo Show, for example, lost access to YouTube after a spat with Google; now, the retail behemoth is reportedly considering developing its own community-powered streaming video alternative that it will have more control over.