With Google Assistant pre-installed on any Android phone (and Siri on iPhones), you should think you already have all tools at your disposal when you want to yell at your phone to control your audio playback. However, Spotify seems to think that it needs its own solution. App reverse-engineer Jane Manchun Wong managed to activate a hidden settings panel in the music app that will let you enable a "Hey Spotify" feature you can use while the app is open and on your screen.
With this limitation in mind, it's questionable how useful Spotify's voice assistant will end up being. It's also unclear what exactly it will do — Wong hasn't specified which voice commands will be available. You'll likely be able to control playback, which is also possible with Google Assistant commands. I'd assume that Spotify's voice control solution might let you add songs to playlists to differentiate itself from Google's, but even then, you'll probably be able to do that faster on-screen when you're in the app anyway.
Spotify is working on “Hey Spotify” voice activation pic.twitter.com/PqZI01WZre
— Jane Manchun Wong (@wongmjane) March 4, 2020
This also isn't the first time we hear about "Hey Spotify." The streaming service is testing a device it calls "Car Thing" (really) that a small group of subscribers can use to control their music in the car — via a custom voice assistant accessible by saying "Hey Spotify." The company says it doesn't have plans to release the Thing as a commercial product, but it looks like "Hey Spotify" is in the process of making the jump to the streaming service's main app. With Spotify's dedicated driving interface in mind, a voice assistant that can only be accessed while your screen is turned on suddenly makes a lot more sense.
So far, the feature isn't available publicly, and it's still under active development. If you're interested in it, be sure to keep your Spotify app updated, and you might just be lucky enough to receive it as one of the first users as part of an a/b test or new release in the future.
Jane Wong has shared some more information on the feature. As it turns out, saying "Hey Spotify" will simply open the familiar Spotify Voice interface you could always access by holding the search button in the app. Still, having a voice-controlled option for that could certainly be useful while driving.
Saying “Hey Spotify” when Spotify is on the screen launches the same Spotify Voice we all know beforehttps://t.co/rTcOfU0cHN
— Jane Manchun Wong (@wongmjane) March 5, 2020