Apple Music could soon see a significant increase in its subscriber count. As of this week, the streaming music subscription service now works with Amazon’s Echo devices. That’s hugely significant for Apple and Amazon’s Echo users who only had access to two major services: Amazon Music and Spotify. But buried in this launch is another significant detail: An Amazon spokesperson confirmed to Mashable that Apple Music “will be coming to other Alexa-enabled devices soon.”
This isn’t earth-shattering news. After all, most if not all third-party Alexa speakers — like the Sonos One, and our new favorite smart speaker, the Riva Concert — can already play Apple Music through a direct integration, or via Bluetooth. Still, being able to call up Apple Music songs, artists or playlists via Alexa, gives people one more reason to actually use Apple Music, instead of the competition. For Apple, this increases loyalty to its subscription service, and we imagine the artists who get paid for these listening sessions will be pretty happy about it, too.
Amazon and Apple’s new coziness puts added pressure on Google. At the moment, Google Assistant devices like Google Home, only support Google Play Music, and Spotify, plus Pandora in select countries. With Apple Music on Alexa devices, Amazon’s offering looks really compelling by contrast. Needless to say, this is all spectacularly frustrating for consumers, who now find themselves faced with a dilemma: When trying to choose a smart speaker, considerations like audio quality and power start to take a back seat to questions about which assistant you prefer, and does that A.I. actually work with your preferred music streaming service? It’s a situation that has caused companies like Marshall to produce Google and Amazon versions of the same speaker.
Of all the smart speakers we’ve seen, only Sonos appears to be headed toward true A.I. nirvana. By supporting Alexa currently and working toward Google Assistant integration for 2019 — using the same hardware — it’s going to be the first smart speaker that supports both major voice platforms and every major music subscription service. Once this happens, perhaps all of these companies will realize that giving consumers choice will always be better than restricting what they can do.