Apple has been quite busy promoting its upcoming HomePod wireless speaker with lots of TV commercials ahead of its official launch on Feb. 9. However, if you were hoping that the HomePod would work like a standard Bluetooth speaker, the company has quietly revealed that won’t be happening, at least not for the launch.
The official HomePod specs have now been posted at Apple’s website (via Engadget). The good news is that the speaker supports Bluetooth 5.0. The bad news is that the specs show that streaming audio from third-party apps like Spotify is only available via Apple’s AirPlay from devices like the iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Apple TV, and Mac PCs. That means if you have an Android smartphone, you can’t stream audio from it to play on the HomePod, even if you have the Android version of the Apple Music app installed on your phone.
To make matters worse for non-Apple hardware owners, you can only set up the HomePod with a device that’s running on iOS 11 or higher. Again, this means you have to own an iPhone, iPad or other iOS 11-based device to even get the HomePod up and running. The HomePod will support streaming audio directly from Apple Music, along with any iTunes music purchases, audio from your iCloud Music Library (if you have an Apple Music or iTunes Match subscription), the Beats 1 live radio services and the Podcasts app. If you stream a third-party app from Apple devices to the HomePod, like Spotify, it will not be able to support voice commands via the speaker’s Siri digital assistant.
All of this means that the HomePod is strictly for Apple hardware owners, and fans of Android phones, tablets, or Windows PCs are left out in the cold. The good news is that there are plenty of high quality wireless speakers out there that are far more flexible when it comes to audio sources and hardware devices. It’s possible Apple could release updates to the HomePad to allow the use of non-Apple devices as audio sources, but we won’t be holding our breath for that to occur anytime soon.
In the meantime, the speaker itself will go on sale in the US on Feb. 9 for $349. It will also go on sale on the same day in the UK for £319 and in Australia for A$499. Sales of the HomePod will expand to include France and Germany sometime later this spring.