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We’ve been hearing that Spotify is aiming to produce its own hardware for a few weeks now, and this latest news substantiates those rumors. A native voice search is being tested in the iOS app, pointing towards future integration with a Spotify-built smart speaker.
This was confirmed by a Spotify spokesperson to be “just a test for now,” and it only seems to be popping up on iOS. If the test is available to you, a white bubble with a microphone icon will be on the bottom right of your screen when you’re in the ‘Search’ tab.
Now Spotify listens to you instead of the other way around. Spotify has a new voice search interface that lets you say “Play my Discover Weekly,” “Show Calvin Harris” or “Play some upbeat pop” to pull up music.
A Spotify spokesperson confirmed to TechCrunch that this is “Just a test for now,” as only a small subset of users have access currently, but the company noted there would be more details to share later. The test was first spotted by Hunter Owens.
Voice control could make Spotify easier to use while on the go using microphone headphones or in the house if you’re not holding your phone. It might also help users paralyzed by the infinite choices posed by the Spotify search box by letting them simply call out a genre or some other category of songs. Spotify briefly tested but never rolled out a very rough design of voice controls a year ago.
Down the line, Spotify could perhaps develop its own voice interface for smart speakers from other companies or that it potentially builds itself. That would relieve it from depending on Apple’s Siri for HomePod, Google’s Assistant for Home or Amazon’s Alexa for Echo — all of which have accompanying music streaming services that compete with Spotify.
Spotify is preparing for a direct listing that will make the company public without a traditional IPO. That means forgoing some of the marketing circus that usually surrounds a company’s debut. That means Spotify may be even more eager to experiment with features or strategies that could be future money-makers so that public investors see growth potential. Breaking into voice directly instead of via its competitors could provide that ‘x-factor.’
For more on Spotify’s not-an-IPO, check out our feature story:
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Microsoft today updated its Cortana app for iOS with iPad support. The look of the app is largely unchanged from the iPhone version, but now the UI is optimized for the larger display of the iPad.
Also rolling out as part of this update, which is version 2.6.8, is a faster start-up. Microsoft says that this new version of Cortana launches 20 percent faster than before.
Cortana is a digital assistant similar Siri or Google Assistant. It can answer your questions about things like the weather and your calendar, help you start a list, do conversions, and more. It can also set reminders based on email or location and track packages and flights.
Because Apple doesn’t allow third-party apps to be set as default apps on iOS, Cortana can’t be “built-in” to your iPhone like Siri can. That means that you’ll have to launch the Cortana app every time you want to use it rather than simply calling Cortana up with your voice. Still, for Windows users that like having Cortana on their desktop, it’s nice to see a native Cortana app available for the iPad, too.