Pandora gets a voice assistant of its own today

Eric Abent - Jan 15, 2019, 12:59 pm CDT
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Pandora gets a voice assistant of its own today

While some voice assistants like Alexa and Google Assistant are duking it out for smart home dominance, there are others that focus on offering more specialized voice support. One such assistant is the new one being launched by Pandora today. Soon, everyone listening to Pandora on iOS and Android will be able to navigate the app, discover new music, and play songs using voice commands.

Pandora calls this new feature simply “Voice Mode,” and says that its new voice assistant uses Natural Language Understanding technology from SoundHound to field a variety of inquiries. Like most voice assistants these days, Pandora’s is activated by saying a wake phrase: “Hey Pandora.” Once you say that in the general direction of your phone, you’ll be able to state your request and have Pandora carry it out in hands-free fashion.

Pandora splits the requests Voice Mode can handle into five different categories. There are control requests, which include things like changing stations, starting and stopping music, or adjusting the volume. Then there’s thematic requests that deliver “personalized music based on each user’s unique tastes, moods, and favorite activities,” (e.g. “play something for my workout”).

Voice Mode can also handle open-ended requests like “play something different”; basic requests that tell it specific songs, artists, or stations to play; and finally, interactive requests such as “what song is this?” Voice Mode taps into Pandora’s Music Genome Project so it can find and play music based on your preferences, so it sounds like it’ll quite capable once it rolls out to everyone.

Pandora says that Voice Mode is launching for select listeners on iOS and Android today. It didn’t give us any idea of how big that initial group of users is, nor did it say when it’ll be available to all users. We’ll keep an eye for more details on Pandora’s voice mode, so stay tuned for that.


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