Until now, unless you’re an Apple Music subscriber, the Apple HomePod speaker has been a non-starter; despite its premium quality audio.
Now Apple is dropping its restrictive stance and opening the door to third-party music streaming services like Spotify and, potentially, some new customers.
Eagle-eyed reporters at 9to5Mac spotted a slide within the WWDC presentation that revealed the forthcoming feature, which Apple didn’t address directly.
While discussing new features coming to the Apple Home app and HomeKit API there was an image of the HomePod along with the words “Third-party music services.”
Related: iOS 14 features
Such a cursory mention means we don’t know when this is going to happen, or whether it’ll come prior to the launch of iOS 14, but the wheels are in motion.
In many ways, this completely changes the value proposition for the Siri-powered smart speaker that’s occasionally spotted close to half of the price of its initial price £319 launch price. Access to third-party music services will give users much more flexibility and arguably makes the HomePod much more of a contender to Alexa-powered speakers like the Sonos One.
Why it’s taken Apple so long to rectify such a glaring flaw remains to be seen, but it was an incredible omission from the get-go and an example of the company’s walled garden approach backfiring.
Spotify in particular took umbrage with the decision, mentioning it as part of a wide-ranging complaint to the European Commission over what it deemed to be anti-competitive practices.
In a blog post last March Daniel Ek wrote: “Apple also routinely blocks our experience-enhancing upgrades. Over time, this has included locking Spotify and other competitors out of Apple services such as Siri, HomePod, and Apple Watch.”
Spotify does have an Apple Watch app now, is compatible with Siri and will soon complete the trio by gaining HomePod compatibility. Sometimes complaining gets you somewhere.