If you haven’t opted to make the HomePod, Apple’s first smart speaker, your go-to option and instead have gone with options from Amazon, then you may be happy to know they are learning some more tricks this week.
Amazon’s Alexa devices have supported the music streaming platform, Pandora, for quite some time. But, up until now, owners could only stream from the service’s radio feature, which means there was no playlist support, or the ability to play full albums from an artist you like. But that is changing this week, as Pandora has officially announced support for Pandora Premium, its monthly subscription offering, for Echo devices. That even includes third-party smart speaker options that support Amazon’s Alexa feature.
Right now, and what feels like for the foreseeable future, the only default music option you can choose for the HomePod is Apple Music. To compare, the Echo lineup of devices now supports Spotify, Amazon Music Unlimited, Tidal, Deezer, and now Pandora Premium.
But, that’s not all. Just in time for the holidays, Amazon’s smart speaker lineup is now also fully supporting Microsoft’s Skype service. Echo devices will support both voice and video calling, depending on the device you’re using. Using SkypeOut, the Echo devices can also call landlines, and Alexa can listen for voice commands to make a call out with Skype as well.
Microsoft and Amazon are definitely starting to work closely in this regard. The two companies launched Alexa on the Xbox One recently, Microsoft’s video game console — which already supports Microsoft’s own digital personal assistant, Cortana. So the fact that Skype support is now available on Echo devices doesn’t seem all that surprising.
It’s certainly a nice addition leading into the holidays.
Which smart speaker, or speakers, do you own?