There was something of a mystery report this week.
Apple and Spotify reportedly in talks to let Spotify users control music playback with Siri […]
According to The Information, Spotify and Apple are discussing a “plan” that “would allow iPhone users to tell Siri to play songs, playlists and albums with voice commands.” These conversations are said to come from new APIs in iOS 13 that allow audio app developers to integrate with Siri.
As we noted, it’s unclear why this would require discussions, as the SiriKit APIs will allow Spotify or anyone else to take advantage of Siri for music requests. However, there is a slightly more drastic possibility …
Spotify may be asking Apple to allow iPhone and HomePod users to set Spotify as the default music player.
As it is, SiriKit music controls should be prefixed or suffixed with an instruction for using the Spotify app. It would be something like:
Hey Siri, ask Spotify to play Camille.
Hey Siri, play A Fine Frenzy on Spotify.
With short versions probably also possible, along the lines of:
Hi Siri, Spotify Ingrid Michaelson.
Omit the Spotify part and the device will use Apple Music by default.
Which is good if, like me, your favorite music service is Apple Music, with Spotify as a secondary option. In my case, I use Spotify for tango music and Apple Music for everything else. Partly because Spotify has a better selection of tango music, and partly because I don’t want tango messing up my Apple Music recommendations.
But if Spotify is your favorite or only music service, you’re bound to use somewhat awkward language. It would be much more convenient for Spotify users if they could just select Spotify as the default music player. After doing this once, they could then use much simpler commands:
Hey Siri, play Janis Ian.
Hey Siri, play my music.
Hey Siri, play Discover Weekly.
This would benefit many Apple customers, but what about Apple itself? It might appear that Apple would shoot itself in the foot to help a competing streaming service in this way.
I would say the opposite, however. I think Apple would do itself a favor in three ways, with almost no downside.
First, customers who prefer Spotify will be very happy with the change. Making customers happy is kind of customer service 101.
Second, expanding that to HomePod would create a whole new customer base. Right now, HomePod only makes sense if you’re an Apple Music subscriber. Of course, you can AirPlay from the Spotify app (although there are issues with stereo pairs – story for another day…), but then you forgo all the benefits of smart speakers. Half the point of HomePod is that you can just tell it what music to play.
Third, this kind of move would help Apple in its various antitrust battles right now, including the one sparked by a Spotify complaint. The Cupertino company could cite it as an example of upgrading competitors on its platform.
And there really is no downside. It is not a change that customers will make at random. The only people who are going to bother to dig into the settings to change their default music player are those who are already loyal users of a competing service, be it Spotify, Tidal, or whatever. These people aren’t really potential Apple Music customers anyway.
So in my opinion that would be a win-win: good for Apple, good for its customers. And if Apple doesn’t, iOS 13 can still include a workaround.
I keep wanting to verify that this works, but I think if you removed the Music app, Siri’s logic would de facto fall back to Spotify (assuming Spotify was installed and implemented the new API) without having to say so. explicitly. https://t.co/XuMDh5HWjW
– Benjamin Mayo (@bzamayo) Aug 13, 2019
So, given that people will already have the option, why not claim the credit by making it official?
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