REVIEW Which music services does HomePod support? If you don’t have an Apple Music subscription and haven’t already used the three-month free trial you’ll see the option to try it out. Otherwise, it’s £9.99 per month or you can choose to get your music from another source. Siri can also play music you’ve purchased from iTunes or music stored in your iCloud Music Library. There’s also Beats 1 radio, which doesn’t require an Apple Music subscription, plus the thousands of podcasts available from Apple. If you already have a Spotify, Tidal, Pandora, Deezer or Amazon Music subscription (or another service) you can play this through the HomePod via your iPhone using AirPlay. You can then ask Siri to control playback, such as pausing or skipping to the next track. What you can’t do when playing music this way is to ask Siri to play a specific album, song or playlist. Until there’s proper integration with another streaming service, Siri won’t be as useful as with Apple Music where you can say “Hey Siri, add this song to my favourites” or “Hey Siri, play party music from the 1980s”. Apple wants HomePod owners to use Apple Music, which should come as no surprise to anyone. Amazon and Google both make their devices work best with their own streaming services, too. Of course, you can play any audio you like through the HomePod as long as it’s via AirPlay. That means you can select the HomePod when you’re watching Netflix, iPlayer, YouTube or even when making a phone call – the built-in mics let it act as a hands-free speakerphone 50 TECH ADVISOR • MAY 2018 Worldmags.net
REVIEW (and the quality and experience is very good). If you have a supported Apple TV, you can choose the HomePod as the audio output, again via AirPlay. What’s missing? The HomePod doesn’t have an aux in (or out) and there’s no Bluetooth. So it lacks the flexibility of some other smart speakers. While anyone in the household can ask Siri to play music, set a timer or do other tasks, they won’t be able to play music from, say, Spotify on their Android phone. There’s no voice recognition in the sense that Siri doesn’t know who’s making requests. Once you set up a HomePod, it pulls information from the Apple ID you used. Siri therefore knows contacts from only one account, making the ability to send text messages and Worldmags.net MAY 2018 • TECH ADVISOR 51
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