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‘Hey Spotify’ is another hands-free way to control your music, rolling out now

‘Hey Spotify’ is another hands-free way to control your music, rolling out now


Not as convenient as native voice assistants, but Spotify hardware is on the way

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(Disclaimer: John Legend is a Vox Media board member.)
(Disclaimer: John Legend is a Vox Media board member.)

If you want to pull up your favorite Spotify track or playlist without pressing buttons, there is no shortage of voice assistants to help you get those jams, including Alexa, Siri, Google Assistant, Cortana, and even Bixby. But now, Spotify has its own hands-free wake word: “Hey Spotify” appears to be rolling out on Android and iOS, as tested by GSM Arena, 9to5Mac, and us here at The Verge.

Frankly, it’s a little less handy than some of the native voice assistants built into your phone because you need to leave the app open for it to work — it’s not something you’ll launch with your phone asleep or with Spotify simply running in the background.

But if you have the app open, you can just say “Hey Spotify” and ask it to play a song; pull up a playlist; launch a radio station; and skip, pause, or play. We also found the “Play something I like” command would pull up a random one of our Daily Mix playlists.

The phone version of the feature’s been in the works for at least a year, as app researcher Jane Manchun Wong discovered last March. The app should prompt you to get started if the feature’s rolled out to you by now, but you might be able to find the toggle manually under Settings > Microphone permissions > “Hey Spotify.”

Why now? Why bother when other voice assistants can do this without launching an app? I imagine that’s because Spotify is tracking toward its own hardware, where its voice assistant will be always on and always ready. Specifically, Spotify appears to be tracking toward the launch of its Car Thing, a dedicated Spotify smart assistant for your vehicle that was reported to include a “Hey Spotify” voice command way back in January 2019.

Having the same voice command on your phone makes sense; users might get used to it, and start looking for it, after they exit their vehicles. And while they’re at it, I also wouldn’t be surprised if we see some “Hey Spotify” headphones or earbuds sometime in the next year.