The Apple HomePod has caused a stir even before it goes on sale — but not necessarily for the right reasons. The usual hype about the launch of a new Apple product is muted this week by reviews noting the $349 speaker is let down by Siri's unintelligence and an inability to use music streaming services other than Apple Music.
We are in agreement over Siri's lack of smartness compared to Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. But saying the HomePod cannot play music from Spotify and other non-Apple services is not entirely true.
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The truth is, music can be streamed from services like Spotify because the HomePod uses AirPlay, an Apple feature which lets iOS devices like iPhones and iPads send their audio output to compatible speakers connected to the same Wi-Fi network.
When activated, AirPlay sends whatever audio the iPhone or iPad is outputting — whether that's Spotify, Amazon Prime Music, or another service — to an AirPlay speaker.
To stream music from Spotify to the HomePod:
First, make sure your iPhone's Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connections are switched on, and both the iPhone and HomePod are connected to the same Wi-Fi network.
- Swipe up from the home screen of your iPhone (or down from the top-right corner on the iPhone X)
- Locate the tile containing music playback controls
- Tap the icon in the top-right corner of the music playback tile
- Tap on your HomePod
Now, music played by the iPhone, no matter which source it is coming from, will play on the HomePod. Even if you switch to a different app, the HomePod will continue to play everything you select.
Siri also works when streaming Spotify to the HomePod over AirPlay, although in a limited fashion. As demonstrated by YouTuber and technology reviewer Jonathan Morrison, saying: "Hey Siri, next track" skips to the next track in Spotify.
The iPhone held up by Morrison shows the Spotify interface throughout the demonstration, showing how it is Siri on the HomePod which is reacting to his instruction, not Siri on the iPhone. A review by The Verge also confirms that Siri can be used to play, pause and adjust the volume while streaming from non-Apple services.
Siri cannot be used to interact with your Spotify or Amazon Music playlists, however. So you are limited in how you ask for music — you have to request a track name or artist. However, this will be some consolation for potential HomePod buyers who do not wish to pay for both Spotify and Apple Music.