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HomePod update will let you set a default service for your music needs

An upcoming change means you'd be able to automatically play Spotify or Pandora with a voice command on your Apple smart speaker, without needing to ask for the service.

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Tyler Lizenby/CNET

The Apple HomePod didn't get much screen time in the company's online-only WWDC presentations a couple of weeks ago, but the tech giant quietly announced that the smart speaker was going to step outside Apple's walled garden. While you could previously play music only from the company's own Apple Music service, it indicated the future addition of Spotify, Pandora and other popular services to the HomePod's repertoire. After a beta update on Tuesday, it seems that HomePod owners can pick one of those services as their default music option.

As confirmed by Apple over email, the update lets you select a default service for music playback, podcasts and audiobooks. If this works the way it does on smart speakers from Amazon and Google, instead of needing to ask the HomePod to use a particular service, you'll simply be able to tell the HomePod to play a song and it will search for and play it via your default service. 

Currently, you can listen to third-party apps on your HomePod via AirPlay and your iPhone or iPad. If you want to play music with a voice command, you can only use Apple Music. With the rollout of third-party options on the way, allowing you to pick a default service makes sense. Having tested smart speakers in the early days of the tech, I can attest to the tedium of needing to ask for Spotify by name every time I wanted to play a song. 

This update sounds like a nice quality-of-life addition to the HomePod that will help it feel more useful to those who aren't strict Apple devotees. Being able to customize defaults by individual user in a household is a nice touch. 

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