Spotify with voice search control

Spotify's experimental voice control feature is an excellent end-run around Siri.

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Spotify is testing a voice search feature that allows users to more quickly access their favorite artists, tracks, albums and playlists. The feature, which appears based on a 2017 experiment involving a " driving mode". has started to appear within the iOS app for a small number of users. I got early access to the trial and tried out the feature set. In short, it's an excellent step forward for in-app navigation that has historically required too much tapping and typing to get where it's going.

Spotify confirmed the test but declined to discuss it. "We are always working to improve the Spotify experience for our users, but we have no information to share at this time," the company said.

To access the new voice search feature, tap the magnifying glass icon in the center of the bottom row of tabs. If you have it, you will see a microphone icon inside a white bubble in the lower right corner of the screen.

Tap and you will get a brief tour of the search function, which is currently only available in English. After giving Spotify access to your phone's microphone, you can tap the microphone icon and speak your command. If Spotify understands it, it will start playing the song, artist, album or playlist you want.

I spent the last hour spitting questions into the microphone, with near-accurate results. I queued up Gold School and Top Hits Today playlists, artist radio stations for Radiohead and Wilco, and the gorgeous strains of "Despacito." It all happened as fast as Siri does the same thing on a HomePod.

So far, voice control seems to be limited to searching for music within Spotify's vast catalog. Ask it "Who are the Beatles?" and it will simply start playing a Beatles playlist without telling you anything about the band. And I found a few bugs. I created a playlist for songs I found on Spotify that I call "Spotifinds," and when I searched for it, the very confusing app asked me if maybe I was looking for "Spotify memes." (Now I am!)

But I'll take it. Apple has done everything it can to cripple the Spotify experience on iOS, preventing the company from developing an integration with Siri or working natively with its HomePod smart speaker. In such a world, building voice control directly into the app was Spotify's best option. And while the feature officially remains an experiment, the first version works well enough to make it a central part of my music.


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