iHeartMedia Taps Native Voice to Build a Voice Assistant for iHeartRadio Audio Content

Audio content giant iHeartMedia has teamed with voice service provider Native Voice to produce a custom voice assistant accessible through Skullcandy devices built with Skull-iQ. The new voice assistant will offer hands-free access to iHeartRadio’s library to wearers when they say “Hey iHeart” when it debuts early next year.

iHeart Native Voice

The iHeartMedia voice assistant will connect with the service’s collection of live and on-demand audio content, including music, radio shows, and podcasts. Users can ask the voice assistant for a streaming station of an artist, live local radio, or by genre. The Skull-iQ operating system in Skullcandy’s Grind, Grind Fuel, and Push Active devices will update with the voice assistant.

“As the number one audio company in the United States, iHeartMedia is excited to partner with Native Voice to provide easy access to our unparalleled stable of live and on-demand content using voice,” iHeartMedia executive vice president of digital distribution and platform partnerships John Vermeer said. “Whether it be accessing live and local radio stations or the most listened-to library of podcasts, offering our users an exceptional experience is our top priority. Native Voice is a pioneer in this space, delivering truly hands-free listening and we can’t wait to offer yet another way to meet listeners where they are with the services they expect.

Native Voice previously announced its Skullcandy partnership at Amazon’s Alexa Live event, where both Alexa and “Hey Skullcandy” were added to Skullcandy hearables. Skullcandy’s voice assistant is designed for controlling the audio media, answering calls, and related activities, while Alexa offers essentially the same functions as an Echo smart speaker. The voice startup has been building its presence in the custom voice assistant space, raising $14 million last year from investors. The new plan is separate from iHeartMedia’s other voice AI projects, including working with Veritone to offer translations of podcasts voiced by synthetic versions of the original hosts.

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