In recognition that podcasts are a growing part of how people are using their Alexa, Amazon has made updates to its home speaker including expanded the selection of on-demand audio that’s available. Taken together, it says the moves will make Alexa “simpler and more convenient” to use.
The most significant upgrade for podcasts is Alexa will now be able to sync with a user’s favorite podcast apps. “If you’ve started a podcast using the Spotify, SiriusXM, or iHeartRadio app on your phone, you’ll be able to pick up where you left off on your Alexa devices when you get home,” the company said in the announcement. But competition between the various services will heat-up in another way. That’s because Amazon says it’s launching a “preferred podcast setting” which means users will be able to pick their default podcast provider.
There will also be more content available with a deal to include SiriusXM’s on-demand library. The company says that will bring nearly 10,000 hours of archived shows, musical performances, and interviews to Alexa. And in a move toward aiding in the discoverability of shows, Amazon is also adding the ability to navigate podcasts by timeframe and topic on the device.
“We’re excited to introduce new Alexa features that help customers throughout their day by making it easier to cook dinner, keep track of the kids’ homework, connect with family and friends, listen to their favorite music and podcasts,” said Tom Taylor, Senior Vice President, Amazon Alexa.
Amazon also followed up on its announcement earlier this month that its Amazon Music streaming service would make more than 50 million songs available in Ultra High Definition—the highest quality streaming quality—by making that that listening experience available for Echo customers. It also said it would also make Tidal’s HiFi audio catalog available on Echo devices next year.
The move came as Amazon introduced an all-new line-up of Echo devices that it said feature updated fabric design and better sound quality while holding its price at $100. It also released several new smart devices including the Echo Frames, new smart eyeglasses, and Echo Loop, a smart ring that provides quick access to Alexa on-the-go.
“Customers interact with Alexa billions of times each week, and they tell us that they love how she has become part of their daily routine. But we can’t stop inventing to make customers’ lives even easier, safer, and more entertaining,” said Taylor.