HomePod is launching February 9 and you’ll need an Apple Music subscription for full music functionality and to enjoy a catalog of more than 45 million songs because the Siri-driven smart speaker does not support non-Apple music services for the time being.
This has gotten music lovers who aren’t Apple Music subscribers worried that they won’t be able to enjoy HomePod’s music-focused features with Siri, which has developed a deep knowledge of music and understands your preferences and tastes.
According to 9to5Mac, HomePod owners will in fact be able to play music that they purchased from iTunes Store, as well as stream Beats 1 radio and listen to podcasts on the device for free, without an active Apple Music subscription.
The publication wrote:
Users can continue to buy albums from iTunes and expand their collection of purchased songs associated with their iTunes Store account, and ask Siri to play those on HomePod.
If you add music to your home iTunes library that was not acquired through a purchase, HomePod will not be able to access it. It appears HomePod doesn’t have Home Sharing, which would enable that kind of feature.
Beats 1 and Apple Podcasts do not require Apple Music on iOS, but it’s good to get confirmation that the same rules apply to HomePod as well.
Apple Music subscription is required “for full music functionality,” says Apple.
Of course, Apple Music subscribers can also enjoy their personal music library on their HomePod because the subscription covers iTunes Match, a service that makes music uploaded to your account readily available for streaming across devices.
As I mentioned before, HomePod will only support Apple Music at launch.
HomePod has a touch-sensitive top for quick music playback control
Given Apple’s history of launching first-generation products, I will not be surprised if they add support for third-party apps and services like Spotify down the road. HomePod supports AirPlay audio streaming so it will be possible for users to send audio from Spotify or their preferred music service to the wireless speaker using their iOS device.
Apple also detailed integrated touch controls on the HomePod top which allow you to adjust music playback and invoke Siri manually, which may be useful in scenarios when uttering the “Hey Siri” hot phrase may not be acceptable.
Multi-room audio with AirPlay 2 is coming to HomePod later this year.