Pandora saw the power of voice early and has been investing heavily in voice. Pandora skill was first made available when Amazon first launched Alexa in 2014. Pandora has evolved their skill over time to offer great listener experience as new tech becomes available. One example was when Music Skill API became available a part of the Alexa Skills Kit (ASK).
“Alexa is the number one smart speaker in the U.S.,” says Brian Park, the staff Product Manager for the Pandora Experience on Alexa. “And Amazon has been a very important partner for us for many years. We want to be everywhere our customers are, and our customers are using Alexa.”
Now, as Alexa turns five years old, Pandora has added app-to-app account linking allowing Pandora customers to link to their Alexa app with practically a one-touch operation, creating an even more frictionless listening experience.
With approximately 70 million users each month, Pandora is the leader in music streaming service in the United States. Park says Pandora’s goal is to deliver a great personalized music experience to every listener. When voice technology emerged, the service already had its own mobile app that customers were familiar with. But Pandora wanted to be fully functional and easy to use on Alexa, so its customers could naturally discover and enjoy great music using their voice.
“Voice is something everyone already knows how to do,” says Park. “It’s natural and intuitive—you don’t have to be taught. When it's well executed and solves a customer need, that's where it really resonates with customers.”
However, as the Alexa-enabled devices grew in popularity with developers and Alexa customers alike, Park says Pandora’s customers didn’t always discover its skill in the Alexa Skills Store. And once they did enable the skill, there were still multiple steps required before customers could enjoy the Pandora service on Alexa. They had to search for the Pandora skill in the Alexa companion app, enable it, and manually enter their username and password for their Pandora account, even if they were already logged into the Pandora app on their mobile device.
App-to-app linking allows for a natural interface between the two apps. It's practically one touch, and you don't have to remember your Pandora username and password anymore, as long as you're already logged into the app. “It’s never been easier to link your accounts and start playing music. Our device support team says that connecting Pandora to Alexa is now literally the easiest device setup that they’ve ever done,” says Park. “It’s just two taps and you’re done. Even my Mom says it’s easy to do”.
It also offers an easy way for Pandora to increase their Alexa skill discovery from their existing mobile app users. “We wanted to make discovery of the Pandora skill more organic, and we realized one low hanging fruit was to make our existing customers aware of the skill is through our own app” says Park. “When the Alexa team introduced app-to-app account linking, we were able to do it easily. With music being a popular experience for Alexa customers, this improved discovery means more Pandora customers can now experience a rich voice-controlled experience with Alexa.”
Linking the Pandora mobile app to Alexa was very straightforward for Pandora team. The app-to-app account linking feature in ASK enabled developers to spend very little time integrating the two apps. The majority of the time spent on developing the app was devoted to creating the right and secure experience for the user interface. This is possible because app-to-app account linking supports Oauth 2.0, the industry-standard authorization protocol that allows developers to connect a user’s identity in one system to their identity in another system. It also supports universal linking on iOS 9 or later, which allows developers to link to content inside an app or website.
“Voice is a natural user interface and we see a lot of promise in the technology,” says Park. “App-to-app account linking made it easy to marry voice with music. We're working with the Alexa team on even more exciting things for the future.”