Amazon Echo and Spotify are a dream team in the smart home

It has become a rare occurrence that a piece of consumer software manages to impress me. It’s 2017, after all. But Spotify has just pulled that off. More specifically, Spotify’s seamless playback and sync ability across different devices.

Since I purchased an Amazon Echo speaker some weeks ago, I now frequently access Spotify on four different devices. Already before buying the Echo, I appreciated Spotify’s handover procedure to switch the device that you are listening music from (e.g. from the notebook to the smartphone). But with the addition of the Echo, the complexity of the cross-device integration has risen, without that I noticed a single issue so far.

I can ask Alexa (the smart assistant that runs on the Echo) to play Spotify, and then control the playback on the Echo either through voice or from any other of my devices that Spotify is installed on. I can skip the song playing on the Echo from my iPhone, hand over playback from the Echo to the iPad via my notebook, or reduce the volume of the Echo’s Spotify playback from my iPad. Or anything in between, except one thing: I cannot control playback on the other devices through the Echo/Alexa – but I never have felt I needed to either.

Having this kind of freedom to control one’s music playback at home is truly liberating, and it makes me wonder a bit what Apple plans to make better with its upcoming HomePod speaker. HomePod is supposed to offer a superior music experience in the smart home. But with Echo’s  outstanding music playback performance and a seamlessly integrated third party music app (such as Spotify, in my example), I wouldn’t know what to wish for more.

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2 comments

  1. Your experience is very interesting, I try to achieve the same things for months now – without any success. How do you manage to do all this, due to the fact that Spotifys Alexa app has no Spotify connect capabilities?

    Your article reads as if you could play Spotify on a random device and then tell Alexa to skip-this-song, or just repeat it. And that is clearly not the case. I just checked it.

    So how do you manage to do the things you described? Maybe you can shed some insights on what commands you use on Alexa…

    • Hmm. Echo is shown as part of “Spotify Connect” for me when opening the Spotify app on my Mac. There is also a Spotify FAQ entry explaining that Spotify Connect is supported:
      https://support.spotify.com/us/listen_everywhere/on_speaker/spotify-amazon-speakers/

      “Through your phone Spotify app, select your Amazon speaker from the device list using Spotify Connect. When using Connect, you can use basic voice commands like pause and skip to control playback.”

      And this is the experience I get. I also use “Volume X” (x for a number between 1 to 10). “repeat” does not work, but “previous song” and “next song” works.

      The voice control is not perfect yet, but this is, as I see it, a different topic than the one I am focusing on in the post, as it has to do with the Alexa AI. My praise is for the cross-device compatibility, “remote control” capabilities and seamless sync/hand over of listening activity between the different devices one has in a home.

      Edit: Now that I read your comment again, I get the feeling that the way you have understood it is that I can control playback on e.g. the iPhone through Alexa? No this is not the case. Only the other way around: I can control playback on the Echo through any other of my devices. Sorry if that didn’t become clear in the post.

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