Amazon Alexa will now play songs in the Amazon Music app on both Android and iOS. The new feature is now live for users in the United Kingdom, the United States, Germany and Austria. Amazon’s music streaming app provides access to Amazon Music Unlimited, which is direct competition for Spotify and other streaming services.
In a statement, Amazon said that millions of Alexa customers enjoy music on their Echo devices. Now with Amazon Music’s Alexa Voice Controls, customers will be able to listen to music based on genre, tempo, activity and even lyrics if they are looking for a specific song but can’t recall the name of it.
To speak to Alexa, which will be integrated into the Amazon Music streaming app, a user just needs to press the Alexa icon at the bottom of the screen while using the app. Amazon’s voice assistant will be able to search for music based on the user’s request, and the statements and questions that Alexa will understand will make it easier for users to get the song they want.
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According to the U.K. head of Amazon Music, Paul Firth, people “search differently with the search box and with their voice. If I was talking to someone, I wouldn’t say, ‘Have you heard “Up All Night” by Beck?’ I’d say, ‘Have you heard the new Beck song?'”
However, with Alexa, Android and iOS users can just say things like “play the new song by…” or “play the song that goes….” Further, users will be able to categorize music in different ways, such as by asking Alexa to play music for a road trip.
Apart from music, Amazon’s voice assistant can also tell the weather, sports scores, news and funny responses to pop culture references. However, third-party services such as Skills will not be accessible, notes CNET.
Amazon Echo speakers which are synced with music offerings and are present in millions of homes around the world have taken major market share in the smart home speaker space. In the music subscription space, however, Amazon is currently in third place behind Spotify and Apple Music. However, according to The Wall Street Journal, music companies are seeing Alexa as a potential route to make Amazon’s music service more competitive. Further, music companies are interested in the categorization and tagging of songs, which in turn will lay out data to make voice-activated applications more responsive.
Apart from music, Amazon is also looking to use its voice assistant in the healthcare space. Amazon’s voice assistant could be of great use in functions such as remote monitoring of a sick patient or allowing doctors to take notes during a patient visit. However, a glaring issue is that Alexa is not HIPAA-compliant, so it does not meet the federal requirements that are designed to safeguard patient privacy regarding their personal health data.
Amazon acknowledges the issue, and at an event on Monday, a spokesperson said, “While Alexa and Lex (the technology powering Alexa) are not HIPAA-eligible, this (challenge) has provided us an opportunity to envision what is possible.”