In 2019, Spotify began testing a hardware device for car owners that it lovingly dubbed “Car Thing,” which allowed Spotify Premium users to play music and podcasts using controls. vocals starting with “Hey, Spotify”. Last year Spotify started to develop a similar voice integration in its mobile application. Access to the “Hey Spotify” voice function is now being deployed more widely.
Spotify chose not to officially announce the new addition, despite numerous reports that the voice option was appearing for many people in their Spotify app, leading to some confusion among users about availability.
An early report from GSM Arena, for example, indicated that Android users had received a push notification alerting them to the feature. The notification advised users to “Just turn on your mic and say, ‘Hey Spotify, play my favorite songs. “ When tapped, the notification launches Spotify’s new voice interface where users are tricked into first giving the app permission to use the microphone so they can verbally request the music they want to hear.
Several outlets were quick to report that the feature was released to Android users, which is only partially true.
Ultimately, the functionality is making its way to iOS devices as well. When we launched the Spotify app here on an iPhone running iOS 14.5, for example, we found that the same functionality did indeed go live. Just press the microphone button next to the search box to access the voice experience. We asked questions and found that other iPhone users on different versions of the iOS operating system also had this feature, including free users, Premium subscribers, and Premium Family Plan subscribers.
The screen that appears suggests in large bold text what you might say “Hey Spotify, play…” followed by the name of a random artist. It also features a big green button at the bottom to activate “Hey Spotify”.
Once activated, you can request artists, albums, songs, and playlists by name, as well as control playback with commands like stop, pause, skip this song, rewind, and more. Spotify confirms the order with a robotic-sounding male voice by default. (You can switch to a female voice in settings, if you prefer.)
This screen also alerts users that when the app hears the “Hey Spotify” voice command, it sends the user’s voice data and other information to Spotify. There is a link to Spotify’s policy regarding its use of voice data, which further explains that Spotify will collect recordings and transcripts of what you say as well as information about the content it has referred to you. The company says it could continue to use this data to improve functionality, develop new voice features, and target users with relevant ads. It may also share your information with service providers, such as cloud storage providers.
The policy appears to be the same as the one used with Spotify’s voice ads, which launched last year, so it does not appear to have been updated to fully reflect the changes enabled with the launch of “Hey Spotify”. However, this indicates that, like other voice assistants, Spotify doesn’t just continuously record – it waits for users to say the wake-up words.
Given the origins of the ‘Hey Spotify’ voice command with ‘Car Thing’, there has been speculation that the mobile rollout is a signal that the company is about to launch its own hardware to the general public in the near future. to come up. There are already indications that may be true – MacRumors recently reported that they found references and photos to Car Thing and its various mediums in the code of the Spotify app. This follows Car Thing’s revelation in FCC filings in January of this year, which also fueled rumors that the device would launch soon.
Spotify was contacted for comment this morning, but has yet to provide answers on the feature’s launch despite a day’s wait. Instead, we were told that they “unfortunately have no news to share at this time”. It further suggests that some larger projects could be linked to the launch of this much smaller feature.
While consumers today are wary of tech companies’ data collection methods – and especially their use of voice data after the three tech giants confessed to bad practices on this front – there still exists a use case for voice commands, particularly from an accessibility perspective and, for drivers, from a safety perspective.
And while you can direct your voice assistant to your phone (or via CarPlay or Android Auto, if available) to play Spotify content, some may find it useful to be able to talk directly to Spotify – especially since Apple doesn’t. not allow Spotify to be set as the default music service. You can only train Siri to launch Spotify as a preferred service.
If, however, you have any doubts about using the “Hey Spotify” feature after enabling it, you can turn it off under “Voice Interactions” in the app settings.