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Use Pandora's new hands-free voice mode and make Spotify jealous

Put down your phone and tell Pandora what to play.

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Angela Lang/CNET

You can now control the Pandora app hands-free on your iPhone ($999 at Amazon) or Android phone. Once you enable Pandora's new voice assistant, just say, "Hey Pandora" to activate the music bot and play your favorite tunes. 

Other music services such as Spotify let you request songs and playlists using your voice. But with Spotify, you need to long-press the search button to activate voice control. Pandora's new hands-free assistant can respond without your touching the phone and respond to a broader range of questions, the company said. With your voice, you can thumb up or down a song while you're across the room and can't get to your phone or tell Pandora to skip a song you don't like. You can also change the radio station you're listening to with a simple command.

To use the voice assistant, the app has to be open and you'll need to turn on the Keep screen on setting in the app. Here's how to start listening hands-free.

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Katie Conner/CNET

Enable the voice assistant

1. Open the Pandora app, and tap on the Search icon.

2. Tap the banner that says Use Your Voice.

3. Select OK to give Pandora access to use your microphone. You'll need to enable this setting to play songs with your voice. You can always change the settings later.

4. Tap the Back button that takes you back to your music collection.

5. Tap the stacked three lines, and open your Settings.

6. Select Voice Assistant.

7. Slide the toggle switch on for Listen for "Hey Pandora."

8. Since the voice assistant will only respond to your voice command when the app is open, slide the toggle switch on for Keep Screen On.

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Commands you can use with the Pandora Voice Assistant

"Hey Pandora, play Weezer station."

"Hey Pandora, play my Thumbprint radio station."

"Hey Pandora, play something awesome."

"Hey Pandora, thumb up this song."

"Hey Pandora, pause."

"Hey Pandora, skip."

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