Amazon Echo

Amazon hasn’t made a big deal of its latest smart-speaker feature, but it’s an extremely interesting development for anyone who’s been thinking about how playlists evolve in a world of voice control.

Users – initially on Prime Music and Amazon Music Unlimited in the US, we think – can now say commands like ‘Alexa, create a new playlist’ and ‘Alexa, add this to my playlist’ – the latter used when a song is playing.

It’s the first time this has been possible using purely voice commands, rather than creating and managing playlists from Amazon’s web or mobile music interfaces.

Based on the reports so far, the feature only works for Amazon’s music services – rather than, for example, to add songs to a playlist on Spotify, even if that’s set as the default streaming service on an Echo speaker.

Managing playlists that you can’t see with voice commands is a different beast to the drag’n’drop model on desktop streaming apps, or even the visual interfaces of their apps. We’ll be interested to see how popular the feature is, and also how Google and Apple tackle it with their own smart speakers.

EarPods and phone

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