Pandora Launches Voice Mode for Everyone

After first launching a limited beta earlier this year, Pandora opened up its mobile voice control to all of its iOS and Android users Tuesday. The new feature allows users to ask for songs, albums, playlists, stations, and even soundtracks for activities or times of day, with simple voice commands.

Pandora’s voice mode is similar to the way voice assistants like Alexa and the Google Assistant make music available via voice controls, down to the “Hey Pandora” wake phrase. However, the feature has been developed in-house at Pandora, which allows the company to make unique use of its own music recommendation capabilities.

This makes it possible to ask for “music to start my day” for a personalized morning playlist, for “more like this” to tap into Pandora’s music recommendation chops, and for podcasts available on the music service.

Pandora first unveiled voice mode at CES in Las Vegas in January. At the time, chief product officer Chris Phillips told Variety that voice technology had advanced quite a bit since the early days of mobile voice assistants. Those advancements also shaped consumers’ expectations for voice usage, Phillips argued.

Consumers used to talk to devices like they were dumb robots, he said. Now, they’re talking to them more like they would talk to their friends. “More and more consumers are going to become more and more vague,” Phillips said.

One of the goals of Pandora’s voice mode was to make sense of those vague utterances by tapping into their past recommendations. “We are applying personalization to all the asks,” Phillips said.

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