Amazon has announced two new features for its smart speaker – music playing across multiple rooms and Alexa control on connected third-party speakers. They highlight the importance of music playing in the home speaker sector.
The first new feature allows users to control and synchronize devices across multiple Amazon Echo devices at home. In other words, by giving voice command, users may have different or same songs playing on various Echo devices. This feature has been rolled out in the U.S., U.K. and Germany.
Now in the Alexa app users can create groups of Echo devices and give names for each group, like Echo bedroom, Echo Tap living room or Echo upstairs, for example. After creating the groups, users can then tell Alexa to play music on a set of speakers. For example, “Alexa, play Ed Sheeran in the Echo upstairs.”
Of course users can also specify the source of the music. Alexa currently supports services from Amazon Music, TuneIn, iHeartRadio and Pandora, while Spotify and SiriusXM skills are coming soon. As for adjusting the volume, users still need to do it through the app or manually on the device.
As for the other new feature, Amazon has released a new development tool called Connected Speaker APIs, which can help manufacturers develop speakers that understand Alexa’s music-playing command. For example, users can give commands to Alexa to play music on other home speakers, such as devices from Sonos, Sound United, Bose and Samsung.
Another tool released at the same time was Multi-Room Music SDK. Just like the first Echo new feature which allows for music-playing across various devices, the new tool allows device makers to enable this feature, so that users can group Echo devices as well as Alexa-enabled third-party speakers to create a “whole home” music experience.
The Connected Speaker API is available for developer preview, which means end-users may not be able to experience the feature until early next year.