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I set up Spotify on my Echo last week and was able to finally play around with it. The experience of listening to a previously created playlist by asking for it was fantastic.

I noticed a few things:

  • There are a lot of songs on my normal playlist that I just can’t listen to after awhile. It’s like I’ve heard them enough so I end up skipping — “Alexa, next”
  • The setup process takes place through the Spotify app rather than through a web app, which is strange. It seems the device for setup needs to be connected to the same WiFi network as the Echo.
  • The Echo in this case is more of a passive playing device. There’s less of that enthralling “play the song I really want now” but a more basic music enjoyment.
  • Acoustic Echo Cancellation on the Echo can be tricky when the Echo is perched between two rooms. In my case, it’s on a ledge between the dining room and a very reverberant kitchen. On a few occasions, I need to trigger the Echo through the button. At 5 meters with music playing… fugetaboutit.

I remember using Pandora for the first time in 2010 via browser and thinking how cool it was that there was this tool that could take my input and eventually come up with a playlist of music tracks that I loved. Grooveshark (RIP) quickly added this feature with Grooveshark Radio but in the end, I couldn’t find that any of these services were getting it right. I think that the nature of our music listening is that it’s very time and emotion based. There can be songs we like while we’re in one mood and we can hate the same songs where we’re feeling something different.

The best service to get this to work was Songza (acquired and absorbed into Google Play Music). I’d be curious if this were to ever get integrated into the Echo — I have my doubts.

In the meantime, we’ll just have to ask for the next song when we don’t like something playing out of a voice based device.

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Independent daily thoughts on all things future, voice technologies and AI. More at http://linkedin.com/in/grebler

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