A small group of users have begun noticing a new voice control feature appearing within the Spotify app for iOS devices, and The Verge this week got a chance to see how the music streaming service's new voice commands work.
As expected, the voice control allows users to call up their favorite artists, songs, albums, and playlists without having to navigate around the app with taps. Voice control is initiated by first navigating to the magnifying glass icon at the center of the app's bottom tab row.
In this area users can tap a microphone icon inside a white bubble, and then Spotify will begin listening for their voice (once access to the iPhone's microphone is allowed). Right now the commands are only available in English, but once a command is asked Spotify will begin playing the content within the app.
The Verge was mostly impressed with the time spent asking Spotify to play various songs, comparing it favorably to Siri on HomePod: "It all happened as quickly as Siri does the same thing on a HomePod." It should still be noted that Spotify's solution as of now isn't a fully talkative AI assistant, but simply voice controls.
I spent the past hour spitting queries at the microphone, with mostly accurate results. I queued up the Gold School and Top Hits Today playlists, artist radio stations for Radiohead and Wilco, and the magnificent strains of “Despacito.” It all happened as quickly as Siri does the same thing on a HomePod.
And I did encounter some errors. I created a playlist for songs I found on Spotify that I call “Spotifinds,” and when I searched for it the very confused app asked me if maybe I was searching for “Spotify memes.” (I am now!)
The voice commands are said to be limited to music only inside Spotify's catalog, and queries like "Who are the Beatles?" were met with the app playing a Beatles playlist, "without telling you anything about the band."
Spotify's voice control test follows rumors that the company is planning to launch its first hardware product, expected to be a smart speaker of some kind and compete with Sonos, Echo, and Apple's HomePod. Particularly for the HomePod, Spotify users face a lesser experience due to Apple's decision to only allow native streaming for Apple Music.
If these new tests roll out to a wider audience, it could be an indication of the technology users can expect to see in a smart speaker built by Spotify. For now, The Verge noted that "the early version works well enough to make it a core part of my music listening."