Apple introduced its new SiriKit for HomePod on Monday alongside iOS 11.2 allowing users to access iOS apps with Siri voice commands in three categories: Messaging, Lists and Notes. This indicates that the initial functionalities of Siri on the HomePod will be quite limited. These limitations are further compounded by the fact that in order to build an app for the HomePod, developers are required to already have an iOS app. It appears that Apple views Siri and voice as a feature to be added to other fully formed mobile apps instead of the primary interface.
Siri and HomePod Will Only Support Apple Music
It also means the only music app Siri will support on the HomePod will be Apple Music. So no, Siri will not support Spotify or Pandora, two of the most popular music subscription services globally. HomePod owners can stream music from these services through their phone apps using AirPlay but they will not be able to ask Siri to play a particular artist, playlist or genre on the Spotify app, for example, through voice commands. By only making Apple Music available on the HomePod, Apple is severely limiting its target market.
Spotify has over 60 million paid subscribers and 140 million total monthly active users. Pandora has 80 million monthly listeners. Apple is positioning the HomePod as a smart speaker with great sound quality but with the recent launch of the Sonos One smart speaker and Google Home Max, that no longer makes it unique. The Sonos One is powered by Amazon’s Alexa and will play nice with multiple music apps, including Spotify and Pandora. Google Home Max has similar support and includes Google Play Music and YouTube Red.
Is the HomePod the new iPod?
It is telling that in Apple’s announcement of the new SiriKit, it describes the HomePod as a “powerful speaker that sounds amazing, adapts to wherever it’s playing and provides instant access to Apple Music.” Considering Siri’s limited capabilities on the HomePod, Apple makes it seem like the HomePod is just a vehicle to get more people to subscribe to Apple Music – sounds a lot like the iPod and iTunes but this time around it’s the HomePod and Apple Music. It could be that this is just Apple’s initial approach with the HomePod’s launch. This position may change next year with the release of iOS 12 which may include new enhancements to SiriKit in 2018 but as of today, Siri is quite limited. For the 30 million Apple Music subscribers, the HomePod may be their smart speaker of choice. For everybody else, maybe not so much.