News April 12, 2021

‘Hey Spotify’: Streaming service debuts voice commands

‘Hey Spotify’: Streaming service debuts voice commands

Spotify has introduced a “Hey Spotify” wake word for premium listeners.

It means users can navigate the app hands-free.

Users head to ‘Setting for the Voice’ section and activate the ‘Hey Spotify’ function, and are able to choose the voice which will act as the commander.

After hearing the wake words, an on-screen text pops up: “Try saying an artist, song, or playlist name.”

When told, “Hey Spotify play something I like”, users are shown a Daily Mix playlist.

The feature has been distributed on iOS and Android and needs to have the screen on and the Spotify app open.

Spotify users already play a song via voice commands through digital assistants such as Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, Google Assistant, and Samsung’s Bixby.

The new feature does not have any extra benefits, but analysts suggest that may change down the track when Hey Spotify becomes more global.

For privacy reasons, Spotify says it only holds recordings and transcriptions of the searches after the voice button is tapped and the wake phrase is used.

Hey Spotify is the latest in functional improvements by the Swedish-headquartered company’s move to increase user experience.

Those driving near a school zone will be alerted with a message “Slow down!” flashing on playlists.

Coming up is an A1 song analyser breaking down the meaning of lyrics, and an in-house music video system which allows users to watch videos in competition with YouTube.

But not all its feature plans have received the thumbs-up.

A group of activists and musicians have asked Spotify to drop the idea of recommending tracks based on the mood of the listener’s voice tone and background noises to denote if they are in a gym or train.

The feature, granted a patent in the US in January, is accused of  being “invasive surveillance technology on listeners”.

“It could also disproportionately harm trans people and be used to emotionally manipulate all of us,” states the Stop Spotify Surveillance campaign.

“Emotion recognition software is largely seen as racist pseudoscience, it’s disgusting that Spotify is even considering using such a technology to extract data and profit from music listeners.”

It added: “It’s horrifying to think about what kind of impact this could have on independent artists and creators, when music is promoted based on surveillance rather than artistry.”

The campaign is by digital rights non-profit advocacy group Fight for the Future and coordinated with the Union of Musicians and Allied Workers (UMAW) which last month held rallies outside Spotify offices around the world including Australia, to protest the company’s payment rate for streams.

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