Voice Assistant Now Available to All Pandora Users

A hands-free voice assistant called “Voice Mode” can now be accessed by all Pandora users in the app on iOS and Android. The feature was announced in January and gradually rolled out to around a million listeners before being released to all users yesterday. Voice Mode is available to all tiers of service subscribers and activated by saying, “Hey Pandora.”

Pandora built Voice Mode in house to include unique personalization. The assistant recommends songs that are custom to the listener based on their history within the app rather than generic tunes. This means two users who ask the assistant to “Play something new” will receive different results. “With Voice Mode, we are introducing an even more natural and conversational way for listeners to discover new music and enhance their experience directly in the Pandora mobile app,” Pandora Chief Product Officer Chris Phillips said in a statement when the news was announced in January.

Features supported include:

  • Control requests to change stations, control volume, skip or pause music, and other basic navigation commands.
  • Thematic requests delivering personalized music based on each user’s unique tastes, moods, and favorite activities like “play something for my workout” or “play music for relaxing.”
  • Open-ended requests like “play something different,” “play something I like” or “play more like this.”
  • Basic requests for a specific artist, song, station, podcast or playlist like “play new music by…” or “play my happy jams playlist.”
  • Interactive requests like “what song is this?” or directional requests like “add this song to my party playlist” or “I like this” to give a thumbs-up.

Pandora Stands Apart from the Crowd thanks to Volume Control

Earlier this year Joe Murphy from compared voice performance on four leading iOS music streaming apps: Apple Music, Amazon Music, Spotify and Pandora and reported his findings for Voicebot. The test was conducted on an iPhone XR when Pandora was in Beta mode and not readily available to the public.

Murphy compared music navigation, playback control and volume control. Apple Music scored highest and nearly perfect across all categories, which is not surprising as they have home field advantage on the iPhone. But among the third-party apps, Pandora was the most accurate overall, followed by Amazon and then Spotify. Pandora skewed higher in part because their app features volume control, which neither Amazon Music nor Spotify offer.

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