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