In September, Amazon announced it was adding support for Alexa voice control to its Amazon Music app for iOS and Android. However, it was implemented as a tap-to-talk function – something that didn’t quite mesh with the hands-free voice control experience Alexa is known for. Today, Amazon is addressing that problem by rolling out hands-free listening to the Amazon Music app instead, as a result of user feedback.
That means customers can command Alexa to do things like play or pause music, move back and forth between songs, and create playlists by asking, as well as take advantage of Alexa’s more innovative features around playing music by mood, activity, genre, lyrics, artist or song title.
For example, you can ask Alexa to do things like “play the song that goes ‘I’m lovin’ I’m livin’ I’m picking it up” and she’ll play Ariana Grande’s latest single, “No Tears Left to Cry,” notes Amazon. Or you can say things like “Alexa, play that Drake playlist I was listening to last week.”
The update to hands-free voice control could help better establish Amazon’s Music service as a viable competitor to Apple Music, which includes Siri voice control, and Spotify, which began testing its own voice search functionality this March.
Amazon Music is still seen as an underdog in the streaming music battle, compared with these two market leaders, but it may not be as far behind as people though.
Last month, for instance, Billboard reported the number of people subscribing to Amazon Music had doubled over the last six months, and Amazon was claiming “tens of millions” of paid customers. (Apple Music had 40 million paid members as of April and Spotify had 70 million.) An earlier report had also found that Amazon’s service had grown to become the third largest music subscription service worldwide.
Voice control – and specifically the hands-free experience offered by Echo speakers – has been a huge contributor to Amazon Music’s growth, as has been its inclusion with the Amazon Prime membership program.
It makes sense, then, that Amazon would want to offer a similar hands-free experience across devices – especially as voice assistants like Google’s and Apple’s Siri have the advantage of being built-in. (And Google has also just launched its own YouTube Music service, which could be a disruptor to this space.)
Amazon says hands-free Alexa is rolling out starting today on the iOS and Android versions of the Amazon Music mobile app for both Amazon Music Unlimited and Prime Music listeners. The feature can be turned off in the settings if you don’t want to use it.