In an early holiday gift to owners of an Amazon Echo speaker, it seems like the cold war between the retailer and Apple might be thawing as Amazon announced that Apple Music will now be available as an option on its smart speakers starting the week of December 17.
The announcement, which was made exclusively to USA Today, comes about a year after the Amazon Prime Video App was made available through Apple TV, and less than a month after Amazon added Pandora Premium to a lineup of music services that also includes Spotify, Deezer, and Tidal.
The competition between Apple Music and Amazon Music has been notoriously fierce as both services battle it out to bring the most subscribers into their music ecosystem. But the two corporations might have also called a truce in service of fighting a common enemy, namely the global streaming titleholder Spotify, which is rapidly closing in on 90 million paid subscribers.
The agreement closes a long-standing loophole that forced Apple Music users to pair their smartphones or tablets to an Echo through Bluetooth in order to play music. More importantly, the agreement enables Echo owners to use voice commands such as “Alexa, play All I Want for Me is You’ by Owl John,” or “Alexa, play Beats 1 radio” in order to get their holiday party started.
It was pretty clear from comments made by Apple executives and engineers that the partnership is a pretty big crack in a very big wall.
“One of the things we’ve always believed with music — and this goes back to the iTunes days — is to try to make the music services as widely available as possible,” Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president for Internet Software and services, told USA Today. “We started by making it available on Windows, and you remember when hell froze over. We’ve had it available on Sonos devices (and) Android devices. We love the ability of people who have Echos to be able to listen and have the full experience of Apple Music on their devices.”
There’s no additional fee for porting Apple Music over to your Echo. Everybody gets three months free, after which the service costs $10 for each individual subscription, discounts to $5 for students, or can be offered under a family umbrella plan that covers up to six users for $15. Users who have an Echo Show or Echo Spot, Amazon’s smart speakers that also have visual displays, will also see album art, although Apple hasn’t ported over the ability to see song lyrics, which is available for some songs on its own app.
While the move goes a long way toward bringing smart home users in different product ecosystems closer together, it’s certainly not a unified field yet. So far, Amazon Music Service isn’t available through Apple’s struggling Siri-controlled Homepod speaker, although Apple says last week’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales gave the Homepod its best week since the device was launched in February.