With the new addition, Echo devices joins Sonos’ family of products as the other major non-HomePod platform offering compatibility for Apple’s streaming music service, which should be good news for the 50 million or so Apple Music subscribers around the world.
Similar to what you can already do with services like Spotify, Amazon says Echo owners will be able to use voice controls to play specific tracks, artists, and albums, along with all of Apple’s curated playlists and radio stations. However, to do so, you will need to enable Alexa’s new Apple Music skill first.
Considering Amazon’s ongoing feud with Apple, the addition of Apple Music could be seen as a potential olive branch. And with Amazon still beefing with Google over things like native support for YouTube on the Echo Show, it’s nice to see Echo owners get one more choice for streaming music while people continue to wait for Google Play Music or YouTube Music compatibility.
Either way, the clear loser here is the HomePod itself, which is Apple’s biggest flop in recent history. Previously, people deeply invested in Apple’s ecosystem were basically forced to choose between the pricey $350 HomePod and the more affordable $200 Sonos One. And while an Amazon Echo might not sound as nice as a HomePod, even Amazon’s most expensive Echo, the $150 Echo Plus, costs less than half the price of a HomePod.
Update December 14, 2018: Apple Music support is rolling out to users ahead of schedule. However, 9to5Mac reports that only Amazon Echo speakers—and not third-party Alexa devices—work with Apple Music, at least for now.