Last week SoundHound launched SoundHound 8, the latest version of its music app. In addition to its signature “Discover” feature, the new app also has a “Play” section also allows users to browse song charts and playlists by genre. Apple Music and Spotify Premium subscribers now also have the option to connect their accounts to the app to automatically add songs from their discovery history to their Apple Music or Spotify playlists.
Adding a Voice-First Experience
And now, all these features can be controlled with voice commands powered by Houndify, the company’s voice assistant. SoundHound claims it is the “first and only music recognition app to offer voice control.” To use the feature, users just simply say “OK Hound…” and then they can use a variety of commands to play a specific song, add a song to a playlist or even ask a question about an artist. What makes the app’s voice control feature unique is that it automatically starts listening upon hearing its wake word. No microphone button required. I gave it a try and it does work flawlessly. The basic commands work quite well, like asking for a specific song or artist. But when I asked it to play Taylor Swift’s latest song, it gave me a random song from 2013 which featured Swift, Keith Urban and Tim McGraw. Not exactly what I was looking for. I will, however, give SoundHound credit for the speed in which the Hound delivers a response. The speech-to-text accuracy is also quite proficient.
While voice controls may improve the user experience, that is probably not exactly what SoundHound was after. In order for its voice assistant to get better, it needs practice. The SoundHound app has 300 million built-in users. By introducing them to Hound, SoundHound has vastly increased Hound’s user base. It will also give the company usage metrics to demonstrate why other companies should “Houndify” their apps. And those metrics should be to SoundHound’s liking considering there is no way to initiate a search within the app except by voice. It truly is a voice-first experience.