Let's be honest: The Amazon Echo smart speaker is a little weird. Clever and well designed, yes. But there's something about shouting orders to a disembodied voice named Alexa that feels a little like a sci-fi movie that doesn't end well for us humans.
Thankfully, the Echo is only getting more useful over time. Its latest integration? Spotify, the first on-demand music subscription service to be built into the Echo since it launched in June of last year. Now you can summon your guiltiest music pleasures from across the room using only the sound of your voice.
Before today, users of Spotify (or any other music service) could beam any music to the Echo from their phones via Bluetooth. But while the audio itself sounds fine through the Echo, using it solely as a Bluetooth speaker misses the point: The Echo aims to be a constantly evolving, artificially intelligent virtual assistant operated by voice control.
To date, the Echo has worked with Pandora, TuneIn, iHeartRadio, and Amazon's own limited music service. But Spotify is the first full-fledged, all-you-can-stream service to find its way to Amazon's smart speaker. It's unlikely to be the last. Rival streaming services Deezer and Tidal are integrated into a wide range of third-party services and devices, and Pandora is in the process of transforming itself into a Spotify competitor as well. Meanwhile, the still-new Apple Music is getting ready to launch its first smart speaker integration with Sonos. Amazon itself is rumored to be working on a subscription service of its own.
Given a little more time, Echo will be bursting with third-party integrations of all kinds, including music subscriptions. And if Amazon's plot to sell smaller, cheaper voice-controlled speakers pans out, more of us may well be shouting for Alexa to turn it up. Who knows? It might even feel normal.