The leading music-streaming service Spotify has rolled out a new feature that lets customers use a wake phrase to summon Spotify’s built-in voice search feature into action.
- The new “Hey Spotify” wake phrase is now supported in the app.
- Say the wake phrase to prompt Spotify’s own voice search.
- The screen must be on for this to work.
- The Spotify app must also remain open.
- It’s continuously listening for the wake phrase.
“Hey Spotify” powers hands-free playback
Available on smart speakers with embedded Spotify functionality, as well as through the company’s mobile app for iOS and Android, this feature basically invokes Spotify’s built-in voice search feature which first launched back in 2019 for customers on Spotify Premium.
Spotify has yet to publicly announce the availability of the new feature, which was first spotted by GSM Arena. It works just as you’d expect—simply say aloud “Hey Spotify,” followed by your request to listen to an artist, playlist, podcast or album.
How to turn on “Hey Spotify”
The “Hey Spotify” feature must be enabled manually in your Spotify settings.
After updating your copy of Spotify for iOS to the latest available version in the App Store, launch the app and touch the settings cog icon, then hit “Voice Interactions” and slide the toggle next to “Hey Spotify” to the ON position to turn on the feature.
And now, the caveats
It’s more of an accessibility thingy than a feature regular users would use, and here’s why.
For starters, it’s much easier to ask Apple’s Siri virtual assistant to play something on Spotify because Siri can be summoned from anywhere you happen to be in iOS. By comparison, “Hey Spotify” is only available when you’re actually using the mobile Spotify app.
As if that weren’t enough, the feature also requires that the screen is on and the app open because it needs to continuously listen for the wake phrase in the background. This in turn severely limits functionality and, again, it’s much easier to request a Spotify song via Siri.
On top of that, we must take into account perfectly valid privacy concerns.
Does Spotify hold my recordings?
A new onboarding experience for the feature states that the company only holds recordings and transcriptions of the searches performed when tapping the voice button or saying the wake phrase. This should ensure no eavesdropping is happening.
A splash screen in the app clarifies that “audio will only be recorded after we hear ‘Hey Spotify’,” which is exactly how Apple’s Siri voice assistant works. “Your voice input and other information will be sent to Spotify,” according to the company.
With all of the above said, there’s no doubt in our mind that “Hey Spotify” is a cool new feature from an accessibility standpoint. In our opinion, this is most likely something that Spotify had to roll out in order to lay the groundwork for its rumored standalone car head unit accessory.