Pandora gets you coming and going

Monday, December 9, 2013 - 12:20pm

In and out of sleep, that is.

Pandora updated its iOS app for Apple devices, adding a wake-up alarm. The app already had a timer feature that encouraged falling asleep to Pandora radio with a timed shut-off. Now users can fall asleep to Pandora, wake up to Pandora, and fortify the “hours listening” metrics Pandora publishes every month.

Pandora is biting into two competing categories with the new wake-up feature. First, obviously, clock radios and the radio stations embedded in most of them. Second, Apple’s wake-up alarm built into all iOS devices.

That built-in iOS alarm is easily controlled by Siri, which is an Apple advantage. It is a simple use-case to poke Siri in the ribs, sleepily mutter “Set the alarm for 6:00am,” slam the phone down on the nightstand, and drop directly into delta sleep. Voice control would make Pandora’s alarm a killer feature. We tried to make Siri recognize Pandora’s alarm, but she grew annoyed, and suggested setting a “reminder to call mom.” OK, we acknowledge our negligence in that area, but still wish for a voice-controlled Pandora alarm clock.

We tested the alarm by setting it one minute into the future. Oddly, Pandora warned us to plug into a power source, as if our half-full battery was gasping its last breath. Never mind that -- the alarm worked fine, gently arousing us from a 60-second reverie with a selected custom station.

You can stop the alarm or snooze it for a preset amount of time. We respectfully request an “OK” function which turns off the alarm but keeps the music playing.

Video demonstrates the power of Apple iTunes Radio integration with Siri

Wednesday, July 10, 2013 - 12:30pm

Hypebot has posted a short video from BTIGResearch analyst Richard Greenfield, in which he controls the upcoming Internet radio service using Siri-enabled voice commands.

The video is a powerful demonstration of the potential of the integration of Siri and iTunes Radio. As Hypebot points out, it's a validation of ideas suggested by journalist Kyle Bylin in 2011 (here), when Siri was first launched. That is, the potential for the voice-command function to truly transform how we interact with music.

In the video, Greenfield commands iTunes Radio to "play Led Zeppelin Radio." Siri understands the command, and iTunes Radio instantly creates the station and starts playing.

"Imagine if you were driving just how easy this would be," Greenfield said. When he commands "Play Adele Radio," it seems Siri didn't understand command at first, but a moment later the device "figured it out," and the station began to play.

The video and Hypebot's coverage is here.

Apple's iPhone voice-control system coming to 9 automakers' dashboards within 12 months

Tuesday, June 12, 2012 - 11:35am

Siri in carsApple yesterday announced a series of partnerships with automakers to bring the voice-control system Siri into cars witin the next 12 months. Drivers will be able to press a button on the car dashboard, then speak a command (like "launch Pandora" or "open iHeartRadio" or "play AccuRadio").

"With the Eyes Free feature, ask Siri to call people, select and play music, hear and compose text messages, use Maps and get directions, read your notifications, find calendar information, add reminders, and more," Apple said (according to PC Mag here).

Automakers on-board with the new integration include BMW, Mercedes, GM, Land Rover, Jaguar, Audi, Toyota, Chrysler and Honda. The system will require a connected iPhone.

"By leveraging Siri's natural language voice control platform, theoretically drivers will be able to keep their hands on the wheel and their eyes on the road to minimize distracted driving," comments CNet (here).

The Verge notes that cars won't sport a custom "Siri Button," but instead Siri will just use the "already built-in general voice activation buttons." Apple also announced new features for Siri, including the ability to launch third-party apps, perfect for firing up Internet radio apps safely while driving.

The Verge has more coverage here and here.

Mercedes and Acura unveil in-car web radio systems

Friday, February 24, 2012 - 11:00am

Mercedes' A-Class dashboard systemMercedes and Acura have unveiled new in-car entertainment systems that include web radio integration.

Mercedes-Benz's entertainment system for their A-Class (pictured) includes dashboard support for AUPEO! radio (like Pandora for Europe, more here and here). The platform can also be controlled using an iPhone's Siri system. Other highlights include "an iPad-like floating display screen."

Meanwhile, Acura has announced the 2013 RDX's entertainment system will include Pandora integration. Acura will also offer, as an add-on, a 60GB hard drive built-in to the RDX.

Both manufacturer's systems require a connected smartphone, and -- as both include Bluetooth audio support -- should be able to play just about any web radio service.

CNet has more coverage on the Mercedes A-Class here and Motor Trend has more on Acura here.

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