Mobile Digital Media Music CNET may get a commission from retail offers. Pandora will join SiriusXM for the next stage of the… $999 Review • iPhone XS review, updated: A few luxury upgrades over the XR DaniLeigh performs at Pandora Presents Beyond last year. Getty Streaming music service Pandora is arming to do battle with Alexa and Google Assistant in the one area it already knows well: music recommendations.Pandora on Tuesday introduced “voice mode,” a function that lets people ask Pandora’s mobile app to play something for them.”People are getting more conversational [with their voice commands], and in getting more conversational, they’re getting more vague,” Chris Phillips, Pandora’s head of product, said in an interview last week at CES in Las Vegas. “I can be vague, and it just gives me a great response.”Amazon’s Alexa has begun a process to make music recommendations by voice more conversational too, but it’s taking a different route. Last year, the voice assistant began engaging in more of a dialogue when you ask it to play something on Amazon’s own music-streaming service. It tweaked the voice assistant by letting Alexa ask follow-up questions when you’re hunting for songs and by playing samples before diving in. The goal was to get you to music you like in 25 to 30 seconds. 0 Now playing: Watch this: Sprint Post a comment Pandora is skipping the followup-question step. What sets Pandora apart is an unmatched history building technology just for music recommendations. Instead of building a voice assistant that needs to field requests about detailing the weather, hailing an Uber or explaining interstellar physics, Pandora’s voice mode needs to be good only at music discovery. And Pandora has nearly two decades of experience making music recommendations on mobile devices with its dedicated Music Genome Project, a track record that is unusually deep and long. To put its music recommendation expertise onto a voice platform, Pandora partnered with SoundHound’s Houndify voice and conversational artificial intelligence. Voice Mode is launching for a small set of beta users Tuesday. By saying the wake phrase “Hey Pandora” followed by a request, users can guide their listening experience “by just speaking naturally,” the company said. Types of requests include: Control requests to change stations, control volume, skip or pause music, and other basic navigation commands. Thematic requests based on personalized recommendations that can be guided by moods and favorite activities like “play something for my workout” or “play music for relaxing.”Open-ended requests like “play something different, “play something I like” or “play more like this.” Basic requests for a specific artist, song, station, podcast or playlist like “play new music by…” or “play my happy jams playlist.” Interactive requests like “what song is this?” or directional requests like “add this song to my party playlist” or “I like this” to give a thumbs-up.During my demo, Phillips showed me how you can request podcasts by who appeared as a guest, so if one of your favorite celebrities or writers is doing the rounds on interviews, you can easily find a podcast she or he appeared on. Pandora said that voice mode would be widened to all mobile users “soon,” without specifying the rollout timeline. Tech Culture: From film and television to social media and games, here’s your place for the lighter side of tech. Apple: See what’s up with the tech giant as it readies new iPhones and more. $999 Best Buy See It See It See it See It Boost Mobile 2:44 Share your voice Preview • iPhone XS is the new $1,000 iPhone X Apple iPhone XS Mentioned Above Apple iPhone XS (64GB, space gray) Google Assistant Alexa Amazon Google Pandora Tags $999 $999
The death toll from a 6 May tanker truck explosion near the international airport in Niger’s capital has risen to 76, state television reported late Sunday.An earlier official report Tuesday gave 60 dead, including 55 who died at the time of the explosion a few hundred metres (yards) from the airport in Niamey.Most of the victims were trying to collect spilt fuel flowing from the overturned truck when the blast occurred. About 40 people were injured.Security official Hamani Adamou Abdoul-Aziz had earlier warned that the toll was likely to rise as several people had sustained severe, life-threatening burns.The driver of the truck has told investigators that an electrical failure caused him to lose control of the vehicle and its brakes. The truck overturned by the railway track as he was trying to stop it and people then rushed to collect petrol spilling from the vehicle.According to witnesses, a motorcyclist who had filled his cans tried to restart his bike, which caused a spark that ignited the 50,000 litres (13,000 US gallons) of fuel.The massive explosion on route RN1 near the airport left the burnt truck’s wreckage, motorbikes and debris scattered over the road.Nearby houses were damaged by the fire.Niger held three days of national mourning from Wednesday to Friday in memory of the victims.