Pandora Voice Control Leaves Beta; Now Available to All iOS and Android Users

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Pandora’s mobile voice controls are now available to all iOS and Android users after exiting a limited beta.

The new feature allows users to ask for playlists, stations, albums, songs, and even soundtracks for specific activities. Pandora’s voice control mode works similarly to Alexa or Google Assistant. You’ll need to use the “Hey Pandora” phrase to activate the app.

Pandora developed the voice control technology in-house, which means you can ask for more general requests.  Pandora is touting a wide range of voice-controlled options; they emailed us with a few use-case scenarios to show this off:

  • “Hey, Pandora: play some music to start my day.”
  • “Hey, Pandora: play more like this.”
  • “Hey Pandora: add this to my slow jams playlist.”
  • “Hey, Pandora: play the latest Kevin Hart podcast.”
  • “Hey, Pandora: play something happy for cooking.”
  • “Hey, Pandora: play the song that goes ‘Snakes and stones never break my bones.’” (Taylor Swift)
  • “Hey, Pandora: turn it all the way up!”

Since Pandora integrated podcasts into the app, you can ask for those using voice controls too. Pandora first unveiled its new voice mode at CES in Las Vegas this January.

At the time, CPO Chris Phillips said developing a voice technology that can understand vague requests is challenging. Consumers no longer talk to voice assistants with specific requests anymore.

Pandora wanted to make sure a vague request like ‘play soothing jazz music’ would be in line with a user’s past recommendations. Personalization is a factor in all voice requests made in the app for that reason.

Pandora has been working on expanding its offering to make it more in-line with other subscription music services.  After SiriusXM finished acquiring Pandora in a deal valued at $3.5 billion, 22 Sirius podcasts are now available on Pandora.

Pandora is facing stiff competition in the podcast category, as Spotify has already invested $300 million on new content. Podcasts are estimated to bring in $659 million in ad revenue by 2020, making them a valid strategy for expanding audiences.