Spotify is testing a surprising feature for a streaming service

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After music, podcasts and audiobooks, Spotify could finally be launching… emergency alerts? At least that's what the company seems to be indicating, based on initial tests of this new feature, currently only in Sweden. The function, first discovered by engineer Chris Messina, was confirmed by Spotify to the publication TechCrunch.

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The company is thus considering a system that would help broadcast public announcements as soon as the user is near a major event such as an accident that could interrupt their well-being. For now, this feature is only in its testing phase, there is no indication that it will necessarily be adopted in the future. Nevertheless, the simple fact of considering it can raise some questions about the interest of such a function within an audio streaming service.

Why such a feature on a streaming service?

First, let's get the legalities out of the way: there's no Swedish law that requires Spotify to develop an emergency alert system. So if the company doesn't have to, it's because it has a vested interest in doing so. Chris Messina, who discovered the feature in the app's code, suggests that it could be a way for Spotify to nudge its users to turn on notifications for their app. Once notifications are turned on, Spotify could then serve ads to users.

Support for emergency alerts could also solidify Spotify’s position as an essential app, joining Meta and Facebook, which have offered a similar feature for several years now. Note that in the United States, lawmakers have already considered requiring video and audio streaming apps to support emergency alerts in addition to the usual TV and radio broadcasters. As of now, this law has not yet been passed, but it could become a requirement in the future, unless streaming services decide to add such a feature on their own.

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