“Hey Spotify” Voice Assistant Wake Word Rollout Begins

Spotify has begun rolling out a voice assistant with “Hey Spotify” as the wake word. The new feature lays the groundwork for advancing the streaming service’s voice commands, which is currently limited to some search options.

Hey Spotify

Spotify started testing the wake word system a year ago, but it’s only now that the option is appearing to more than a very small group of testers. Those chosen get a notification from Spotify and then have to set up the wake word by giving permission to the AI to listen for the wake word whenever the Spotify app is open. The app says it will only hold onto recordings made after the wake word is said or the microphone button is pressed, meaning it won’t record general conversation around it unless of course, the AI thinks it hears the wake word. Users can also pick from a couple of options for the voice used when Spotify responds to the wake word.

The wake word provides hands-free access to Spotify’s existing voice search, not much different than asking the voice assistant on the smartphone to do the search on the app. “Hey Siri” and “Hey Google” both have the benefit of alerting the connected voice assistant working even if the app is closed, though, especially since Spotify can be set as the default music player. That element suggests Spotify probably imagines people using the voice assistant while driving as that’s when people are likely to have Spotify open on their phone for a while and want hands-free access.

Spotify Tech

The voice assistant may also be tied to the device for playing music and podcasts in cars that Spotify first said it was working on back in 2019. The wake word may be the gateway for a lot of new Spotify tech. The company recently received a  patent for tech that suggests songs based on the emotion in your voice. Spotify speech recognition technology would measure how words are said and by whom to design a playlist. The company has also picked up patents for creating karaoke tracks from existing music and measuring the speed someone is running or walking to pick songs that match the pace. The voice element is also going to be crucial for Spotify’s new social audio ambitions. After acquiring Locker Room parent company Betty Labs, Spotify is going to want to make it as easy as possible to get people onto the platform, and hands-free access for drivers might help draw people to concerts and other events Spotify plans to use the social audio platform to host.


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