There has been quite a fuss made of Apple's approach to the HomePod, with a lot of people calling it an walled garden affair. However, that's not strictly true ‚Äď you can stream Spotify, Deezer, Amazon Music, Pandora, your favourite internet radio stations and a whole lot more on a HomePod using AirPlay.
The HomePod can do everything that any other regular AirPlay speaker does, so if your favourite streaming app is on iOS and has an AirPlay option then you can beam over your tunes. That does, of course, mean getting out your iPhone or iPad to get things started.
It also means no "Hey Siri, play Kanye West on Spotify" or "Hey Siri, wake me up at 7.30am with KEXP", as there is with Amazon's Echo speakers or Google's Home devices ‚Äď both of which even let you set Spotify as a default ahead of their own in-house streaming services.
But what about Siri Shortcuts, which allow you to create your own setups for controlling your Apple devices via Siri? Well, while Siri Shortcuts will allow you to instantly play services like Overcast on HomePod - Spotify has not yet updated its app with Siri Shortcuts support to do so.
The Ambient's verdict: Apple HomePod review
Siri may not be as smart as she is during Apple Music sessions when it comes to answering questions or offering up alternatives, when using Spotify or other alternatives over AirPlay ‚Äď but that's not to say Apple's digital assistant goes mute. You'll have no issues with basic playback controls and Siri can still relay band and song information (from Wikipedia) most of the time.
Anyway, on with the main event and, given that Spotify is the most popular streaming service on earth ‚Äď and that AirPlay on it can be a bit fiddly ‚Äď we thought we'd talk you through streaming Spotify to your Apple HomePod.
Spotify app streaming to HomePod
Firstly, open the Spotify app on your iPhone or iPad and choose the song you want to get things started with.
Click the 'Devices Available' button at the bottom, select 'More Devices' and then choose your HomePod speaker.
Alternatively, if you're already listening to Spotify on your iPhone and you want to switch the sound to your smart speaker, you can do so without opening up the Spotify app. From Control Center, the music tile will show whatever song you're currently streaming on your phone.
Simply 3D Touch (or long press if you've got an older iPhone) and press the AirPlay button. Select your HomePod speaker and the music will stop playing on your phone's speaker (or headphones) and transfer immediately over to your HomePod. You can also just use the widget on the iPhone's lock screen to do the same thing.
The key is choosing a playlist or an album that you basically want to listen to in order. Sure, you can skip tracks but that's about it ‚Äď there's no requesting Siri to jump to a new collection. Anytime you do want to switch things up you'll be relying on your iPhone or iPad's display to select a new playlist or album.
Since AirPlay 2 arrived - adding muti-room and stereo to the HomePod - you can, of course, choose to play your Spotify tunes back through multiple speakers, or a duo that have been set up as a pair. Simply use the method as outlined above, and check the options for the multiple HomePods, or choose a pre-set stereo pair.
Spotify voice commands for HomePod
You can do most of the usual track controls that you'd get with Apple Music ‚Äď the big exceptions being skipping tracks forward and playing the previous track ("Hey Siri, play the previous song" just restarts the current song, weirdly).
Here are the ones you'll use the most‚Ä¶
- "Hey Siri, turn the volume up."
- "Hey Siri, turn the volume to [x]%."
- "Hey Siri, turn the volume down."
- "Hey Siri, pause this song."
- "Hey Siri, resume the song."
- "Hey Siri, play the next song."
Musicologist and Siri interactions with Spotify on HomePod
As we mentioned above, you can't ask Siri to play certain albums or playlists (or even songs) on Spotify or other third-party streaming services ‚Äď you'll need to kick start every session on your iOS device. But that doesn't mean that Siri takes a break during your Spotify HomePod sessions.
As well as the control commands listed above, you can also tap into Siri's (well, Wikipedia's) music knowledge to get track and artist info.
Try these out for starters‚Ä¶
- "Hey Siri, what song is this?"
- "Hey Siri, when was this song released?"
- "Hey Siri, what album is this on?"
- "Hey Siri, who plays the drums in this band?"
- "Hey Siri, tell me about this artist."
Spotify to HomePod using your Mac
Your Mac has AirPlay built in, right? And you can already send Spotify music from your Mac to your Apple TV using the AirPlay button in the top bar, right?
So, surely you'll be able to stream music from your Spotify app on Mac to your HomePod, right?
Wrong. There's currently no way of doing this. The Spotify app itself doesn't list AirPlay speakers and, for some reason. the Mac AirPlay option in the menu bar only lists Apple TVs, not HomePods (even weirder because you can AirPlay to a HomePod from iTunes on a Mac).
But there is a workaround. You can play any sounds from your Mac, Spotify and more, over AirPlay to your HomePod - but you'll need to dive into your System Preferences. From there, choose 'Sound' and choose your HomePod as the device for sound output.
Be sure to check out our Apple HomePod missing manual for all the important details on the newest smart speaker in town.