Apple HomePod: Gaana, a popular music streaming service, will now support hands-free music streaming with the help of voice commands on Apple’s HomePod Mini. At present, the Rs 9,900-smart speaker allows direct streaming of music from Apple Music as a default, but with this, users would have an alternative streaming service as well as an entire extra library that Siri can access using the device. This is especially significant since Gaana has a pretty extensive Indian music library in several Indian languages. This makes Gaana more appealing to the Indian audience that wants to listen to a wider variety of songs in Indian languages.
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Gaana provides service in free as well as paid models, and HomePod Mini allows hand-free streaming regardless of whether the user has a free plan or a paid one. However, for this to work, users would need to first activate the service on the Gaana app in an iOS device that is linked to the HomePod Mini. To set this up, users would need to head to the Settings tab and then select “Connect with HomePod”. Following this, there would be some more instructions given to users on the screen, following which they would be able to activate this facility for their HomePods Mini.
Once the service has been activated, simple voice commands telling Siri to play a specific song from Gaana would let users enjoy streaming songs directly from the platform. This is a significant development on Cupertino’s part since it earlier only allowed hands-free music to be streamed from the in-house music streaming service Apple Music.
While HomePod Mini could stream music from Amazon Prime Music and Spotify, this needed to be done with the help of a smartphone that acted as a controller. Moreover, for this, an AirPlay connection needed to be established between the two devices.
This is also key because Cupertino has always aimed to build an Apple ecosystem, which means that its devices provide limited support to third party devices and services, and HomePod and HomePod Mini are no exceptions with Apple Music being the default service. In fact, the smart speaker cannot be connected to other devices merely by Bluetooth, requiring an Apple AirPlay connection between the device and HomePod to stream other content.
This change, therefore, could indicate a more open policy on the part of Apple, even if just with regards to the services its HomePod offers.
Apple is currently involved in a legal battle with Epic Games for its policy of charging developers a 30% commission fee and not allowing installation of third-party apps. The latter was also highlighted by the court, which sought explanation as to why Apple was not allowing sideloading of apps on its iPhone as it did for Mac. Though Apple seemingly averted the issue by highlighting user security, this support too Gaana, a third-party service, albeit limited, could be a step on Cupertino’s part to tide over anti-competitive narrative that is rather gaining pace among people.