Artificial Intelligence

Pandora Debuts Voice Assistant

Streaming music provider Pandora has announced the launch of Voice Mode, a smart assistant that allows listeners to control its mobile app through simple voice commands. Voice Mode is being rolled out to select listeners on iOS and Android, starting Tuesday (Jan. 15), and will become available to all mobile users in the near future.

“Pandora is the leader in personalized audio entertainment, and millions of our listeners are already loving the experience we’ve created on smart speakers and other voice-enabled connected devices,” said Chris Phillips, chief product officer at Pandora, in a press release. “With Voice Mode, we are introducing an even more natural and conversational way for listeners to discover new music and enhance their experience directly in the Pandora mobile app, like getting recommendations from a friend who really knows you.”

Users can simply say the wake phrase “Hey, Pandora,” followed by a request to control and refine their listening experiences through simple speaking. Pandora has partnered with SoundHound’s Houndify voice and conversational artificial intelligence (AI) platform to utilize its proprietary Speech-to-Meaning and Deep Meaning Understanding technologies — so that users can carry out requests, including changing stations, controlling volume, skipping or pausing music, and other basic navigation commands.

Voice Mode can also deliver music based on each user’s tastes, moods and activities, like “play something for my workout” or “play music for relaxing.” In addition, it can carry out open-ended requests like “play something different,” “play something I like” or “play more like this;” basic requests for a specific artist, song, station, podcast or playlist; interactive requests such as “what song is this?” and directional requests like “add this song to my party playlist” or “I like this” to give a thumbs-up.

In late September, SiriusXM announced it would buy Pandora for $3.5 billion in an all-stock transaction. Through the merger, which is slated to close in the first quarter of 2019, SiriusXM gets Pandora’s 70 million monthly active users.

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