When Amazon Prime Music first launched in 2011, I wrote about my first impressions and whether or not I thought it was a Spotify killer. At the time, I did not, but in the four years since launch Amazon’s music streaming service has grown by leaps and bounds, thanks in large part by the vast proliferation and adoption of Alexa-enabled devices.
Amazon has enabled Alexa support within the Prime Music mobile app, and it’s a welcome addition for those looking for a truly hands-free experience, especially while driving.
Having set up a smart home, I’ve grown accustomed to using Alexa voice-commands for everything from adjusting the lights and changing the channels on the television, to playing music and my favorite podcasts over the handful of Sonos speakers that we have spread throughout our house. Also, being new parents, we’ve become especially reliant and appreciative of anything we can do that is hands-free when our hands are otherwise full!
Due to this widespread integration, I’ve always enjoyed the ease by which I can quickly call up songs and playlists through Amazon Music in a much more intuitive way than I can by asking Alexa to play something from my other linked music services. Merely saying, “Alexa, play music for cleaning the house,” or “Play alternative rock hits from the 90’s” results in her finding a relevant playlist or station, based on my mood or a particular genre or artist.
Carrying this functionality over to the mobile app is somewhat of a game-changer for me, and has quickly cemented Amazon Music as my preferred music service, over even Spotify, which has been my go-to favorite for years.
I live in a state where the police can pull you over if you’re caught fiddling with your phone while driving. Having an Android device, I could always use Google Assistant to wake the phone and then give it a voice command to play my music, but the experience can be hit or miss, and usually ends with me reaching for the phone. The Amazon Music app stays awake once you launch it and continues listening like any other Alexa-enabled device, making it easier to change songs or playlists on the fly, while keeping your hands firmly on the steering wheel, and your eyes on the road.
So far, I have found the Alexa-enabled experience in the app to be exceptionally good, and accurate. I may need to turn down the volume to issue my next command, but I have yet to feel the need to reach for my phone. As with all Alexa-enabled devices, I also really like the natural language processing, which means that I can speak in ordinary sentences, rather than feeling the need to issue a very explicitly worded command. So, saying “Alexa, play me some chill music for my drive home,” or “Play upbeat pop music for my bike ride” produces the expected result without the need to repeat yourself.
A Good Listener
Of course, this hands-free functionality is also helpful if you’re using a Bluetooth speaker. For example, in the shower or the kitchen cooking, and you want to skip a track, pause, or change the playlist.
I bounce between Spotify and Amazon Music pretty frequently as my music streaming services of choice, and both share a lot in common, including the ability to save offline playlists, custom stations/radio, and displaying lyrics, etc. But the new hands-free voice-enabled benefits of the Amazon Music app has given it a pretty significant advantage in my book, especially considering our current smart home adoption, the more accurate natural language processing, and the safety benefit while in the car.
To be fair, Spotify does have voice-search; however, it requires you to press and hold the microphone icon each time and is not genuinely hands-free (aka listening for your next command as the Amazon Music app does). Some people may not be comfortable with an app that is always listening, which is also a valid concern.
As I mentioned previously, once you issue a command the Amazon Music app will stay open and keep your screen on so that it can listen for your next command, which I find handy, and not having to repeatedly reach for the phone whenever the screen times out. However, you can disable the ‘always listening’ function by just turning your screen off once you have the playlist you want.
All in all, it’s a feature that I enjoy using, have been impressed by, and it has drastically reduced how often I reach for my phone in the car. With a new baby in the backseat, this is especially important to me.
Amazon Music is free to Prime members – as is Prime Video, Prime Photos, Amazon Households and more – so if you’re not currently using it, you’re missing out on a pretty significant benefit of membership.
Have you given the Alexa-enabled Amazon Music a try? Share your thoughts and experience in the comment section.