Amazon has updated its Amazon Music iOS app so that its Alexa virtual assistant can now be used to play songs and discover new artists. After installing the update, users in the U.S., U.K., Germany, and Austria can ask Alexa to play music by genre, decade, mood, tempo, activity, and even lyrics.
The feature is activated from the app interface using a new Alexa button, which has been designed to feel like a natural extension to asking Alexa smart speakers around the home to play music, while aiding users who aren't using two hands to interact with their phone.
Alexa is capable of responding to commands like "play the song of the day" or "play music for studying", adding an extra level of discoverability to Amazon Music when using the iOS app. As noted by The Verge, music companies are also reportedly investigating whether Alexa can be leveraged to make Amazon's music services more competitive, with song metadata like tagging and categorization being seen as potential entry points for more sophisticated voice-activated music features.
Set to launch in December, Apple's $350 HomePod smart speaker uses Siri to enable similar voice-activated commands, which Apple hopes users will come to view as an intelligent "virtual DJ" that can learn and adapt to their musical tastes.