The Apple HomePod ships next week but it might already be showing some of its warts this early. Never mind that it’s late, because Apple has a knack for rewriting history anyway. Evidence, both official and not, have surfaced revealing a smart speaker that might be a tad limited compared to the rivals it will be facing. The newest one is the official list of audio sources that the HomePod will support. And while it’s a very short list, it might not be much of a problem if your entire world already revolves around Apple anyway.
The gist of it is that the HomePod will only support sources of music and podcasts that are either owned by Apple, hosted by Apple, or, at the very least, uses Apple technologies. That means you can only play music from Apple Music, Beats 1 Live Radio, iTunes Music and Podcasts, and any music you may have uploaded to your iCloud Music Library.
The only way you can get the HomePod to play music outside of those is if you stream from another device that support AirPlay. And those aren’t that many, at least not compared to the number of Bluetooth devices that the speaker won’t support. Despite the HomePod supporting Bluetooth 5.0 anyway.
This limitation, if you see it as that, follows the news of limitations on Siri’s capabilities on the HomePod. Apple has emphasized time and again that its goal for the speaker isn’t simply just to have one in the market but to deliver a quality audio experience. That may explain why Apple is limiting what the HomePod can do to things that it can directly control.
Of course, this could also be seen as a serious limitation compared to the wealth of capabilities and sources that speakers like the Amazon Echo or the Google Home support. But Apple has always been perfectly content to play within its own world. And people have definitely paid more than $349 for products that do not work outside of Apple’s beautiful but walled garden.