Apple HomePod Music Commands and Services - Everything You Should Know

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Apple HomePod Music Services
Updated: 20th Dec 2019
Published: 1st Sep 2019
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You might already be enjoying the pleasures of having Siri turning your lights on and off, controlling your thermostat and lots of other smart things. But did you know that smart home control is simply scratching the surface of this able assistant’s voice control features?

Whether you are new to Siri or have had her a while on your iPhone, you might appreciate the potential she has through music voice control. However, you might notice that her capabilities on an iPhone and the Apple HomePod differ slightly.

If you are a smart home enthusiast and have the Apple HomePod, it is imperative that you learn how to interact with her. This includes knowing the right music commands to get her to do your bidding and becoming acquainted with music services accessible on the HomePod. By doing so, there are lots of HomePod musical abilities that you may be able to enjoy.

Apple Music

The easiest way to play music using Siri voice control on the HomePod is through the Apple Music service. This is the only service (currently) which allows for completely seamless use with the digital assistant.

The service also gives you access to your own iTunes Music library as well as the entire Apple Music catalogue. This is an enormous database of music, and it might be challenging to get around it and find your favourite songs.

Fortunately, Siri can guide you through it. The thing about voice control on the HomePod or any other smart speaker is that you need to know the right command to get things done. Note that using voice control when playing music only applies when using Apple Music. If you are using a third-party service and AirPlay, you have to do things manually as we will see later in the article.

But for now, here are some of the things you may want to do and some notes on how to get Siri to do them for you:

Music Playback Commands

  • To play music “Hey Siri, play [song name]” or “Hey Siri, play [song name] by [artist].” You could also say, “Hey Siri, play [album] by [artist]”
  • To shuffle up music “Hey Siri, play [album name] shuffled”
  • To play a movie soundtrack  “Hey Siri, play the [movie name] soundtrack”
  • To play a given playlist, “Hey Siri, play [playlist name] playlist”
  • To shuffle up your playlist, “Hey Siri, shuffle my [playlist name] playlist”
  • To add a song to an existing playlist, “Hey Siri, add this song to [playlist name] playlist”
  • To request for a different version of a song, “Hey Siri, play a live version of this song”
  • To add a song to your library, “Hey Siri, add this song to my library”
  • To get Siri to understand your preferences, “Hey Siri, I like this song”
  • Or, “Hey Siri, play more songs like this”
  • Or, “Hey Siri, skip this song”
  • If you completely dislike a certain song, “Hey Siri, never play this song again”
  • Or, “Hey Siri, never play [song name]”
  • When you are in the mood for something specific, “Hey Siri, after this, play [song name]”
  • To control the volume, “Hey Siri, turn down/up the volume”
  • Or “Hey Siri, raise/lower the volume to [1-100]
  • For playback controls, say, “Hey Siri, play the next song”
  • Or “Hey Siri, play the previous song”
  • To add a song to the apple music playlist, say “Hey Siri, add this song to [playlist name]”

Other basic commands include:

  • “Hey Siri, make it louder”
  • “Hey Siri, increase/decrease the volume 20 per cent”
  • “Hey Siri, pause”
  •  “Hey Siri, skip forward 20 seconds”
  • “Hey Siri, jump back 15 seconds”
  • “Hey Siri, how many songs are in this album?”

Commands for Getting Siri to Play Specific Music You Want

  • To play the latest tunes from an artist “Hey Siri, play the latest [artist] album”
  • To play music by genre “Hey Siri, play [genre] songs”
  • To play music by time “Hey Siri, play songs from the [decade]”
  • To play hit songs by period “Hey Siri, play hit songs from the [decade]”
  • To get the number one song of a given period,  “Hey Siri, play the number 1 songs from [date]”

Other commands under this include:

  • “Hey Siri, play the best songs from the US”
  • “Hey Siri, play the best songs from Canada”
  • “Hey Siri, play the best songs from the 80’s”
  • “Hey Siri, play the top 20 songs from 1999”

Commands for Playing Music by Mood or Activity

  • “Hey Siri, play a [mood or activity] song”
  •  “Hey Siri, play something lively”
  • “Hey Siri, play some sad music”
  • “Hey Siri, play some party music”
  • “Hey Siri, play some workout music”

Or make it more to make it more specific:

  •  “Hey Siri, play some 70’s workout music”
  • “Hey Siri, play some jazz for working out”
  • “Hey Siri, play some romantic music”
  • “Hey Siri, play some focus music”
  • “Hey Siri, play some chill music”
  • “Hey Siri, play some cooking music”
  • “Hey Siri, play some fun music”
  • “Hey Siri, play some music to dance to”

Commands for Getting More Information about Music

  • To know the artist, ask, “Hey Siri, who sings this?”
  • To get to know the title, “Hey Siri, what is this song called?”
  • To get even more details on a song, “Hey Siri, who was the drummer on this song?”
  • Or, “Hey Siri, What year did this song come out?”
  • Another option is, “Hey Siri, tell me more about this artist”
  • Or, “Hey Siri, when was this recorded?”

Other commands include:

  • “Hey Siri, where’s [artist] from?”
  • “Hey Siri, what was the last song called?”
  • “Hey Siri, who plays piano on this song?”
  • “Hey Siri, what year is this song from?”
  • “Hey Siri, what’s the name of the next song?”
  • “Hey Siri, who is the artist in the next song?”

Commands to Help You Search for Lyrics

  • “Hey Siri, search for a song with the lyrics [lyrics]”
  • “Hey Siri, play the song that goes [lyrics]”
  • “Hey Siri, search for the song that goes [lyrics]”
  • “Hey Siri, play the song with the lyrics [lyrics]”

Other useful Siri music commands

  • “Hey Siri, play the latest song by [artist]”
  • “Hey Siri, play the Best of the Week”
  • “Hey Siri, play this year’s Grammy nominees”
  • “Hey Siri, play a playlist from Arcade Fire”
  • “Hey Siri, repeat the last track”
  • “Hey Siri, play more by this artist”
  •  “Hey Siri, play [artist’s] first album”

Here are some commands that might come in handy for HomePod radio skills:

  • “Hey Siri, play Beats 1”
  • “Hey Siri, play NPR Radio”
  • “Hey Siri, create a radio station based on [artist name]
  • “Hey Siri, play music that I like”
  • “Hey Siri, play [genre name] radio”
  • “Hey Siri, play the 90’s radio”

Note that by default, Siri will choose the most well-known version of a song when you request a track. Therefore, if you prefer a different version, you should specify both the song title and the artist’s name.

Another important point to note is that Apple recently bought Shazam, an app which can use a snippet of sound to recognize music. So anytime you ask Siri, “What song is this?” she may take a few seconds to search the library and give you a response with the title and artist name.

Streaming Music to Your HomePod

Being an Apple product, you might expect the HomePod to only support music streaming from Apple services. But you can actually stream music from any service that runs on Apple devices. These include Amazon Prime (and now Amazon Music HD) Music, Pandora Spotify and YouTube Music; and the list is constantly growing.

However, streaming music to the HomePod from these services is slightly different from how you would ordinarily stream from Apple services and products. You will need to do a few extra steps which we discuss in detail below. It’s well worth the effort as it lets you enjoy music on the remarkable-sounding HomePod.

Using an iPhone or iPad

Since the HomePod does not come with built-in support for music streaming from third parties, you have to be a little innovative. You will need to use an Apple technology known as AirPlay, a free feature included in all iOS devices. The essence of the feature is to let you stream music between compatible devices.

To stream music using your iOS device, you need to have both the HomePod and the device on the same Wi-Fi network. Follow these steps to start streaming:

  • Go to “Control Center” on your iOS device. In most cases, you can do this by swiping from the bottom up. But on the iPhone X, you will need to swipe down from the top right corner.
  • On the top right corner of music control, tap the two lines.
  • You will see a list of AirPlay devices. From this list, tap the name of the HomePod to which you want to stream.
  • Close the Control Center.
  • Open the app from which you want to start streaming and start playing music. It should stream to your HomePod.

Streaming Third-Party Music Services from a Mac to HomePod

Though streaming music from a third-party service on your Mac also uses AirPlay, setup differs slightly. Here is how to get things going:

  • Go to the Apple menu on the top left corner and open “System Preferences.”
  • Select “Sound” and if “Output” is not already selected, select it as well.
  • Choose the name of the HomePod to which you want to stream music.
  • Next, check the box adjacent to “Show volume in the menu bar” to get access to the HomePod through the menu bar. This will be much easier than having to go through System Preferences every time.
  • Play the music you want through a browser or app on the Mac and you will hear it on the HomePod.

Streaming Music Limitations

It is important to note that when streaming music to the HomePod using AirPlay and third-party services, there is one major limitation: you cannot use voice control as there is no access to Siri. You, therefore, have to use alternative methods of playback control.

Playing Radio Stations (other than Beats 1)

You can also use AirPlay to play radio stations besides Beats 1. To do so, simply open your iPhone, go to the Home app and click “Devices Available” at the bottom of your screen.

Next, select “More Devices” and then choose the Apple HomePod speaker you want to use. You can use this method to access any radio station for as long as it has a web-based app. These include TuneIn, BBC iPlayer and other options. They would also need to have the AirPlay logo in the app.

Creating Stereo Sound

Do you have a music aficionado in your life? Many purists will settle for nothing less than a high-quality stereo setup, having a right and left speaker to deliver the sounds exactly as the artist intended.

To enjoy this music like this, simply add a HomePod to a room where another one already lives. You will see a pop-up on your screen asking you if you would like to create a stereo pair.

Alternatively, you can look for the option on your Home app. Here’s how:

  • Ensure that the two speakers are in the same room within the Home app
  • Launch the Home app then press and hold the HomePod icon and tap “Settings”
  • Tap “Create Stereo Pair”
  • Choose the second HomePod to make the pair
  • To identify the left and right speakers, tap on the left side of one HomePod and on the right side of the other
  • In case you want to swap them, tap the swap icon on the screen
  • Tap “Back” and then tap “Done”

Controlling HomePod’s Music using an iPhone

While the use of voice control to manage playback on your HomePod is the most convenient, there are times when using the app on your phone is more helpful. Here is how to do it:

  • Go to the iOS music app and select the song you want
  • Click on the AirPlay logo
  • Select your HomePod
  • Go to the Control Center and long-press the music title to access a screen with all your music playbacks on Apple devices
  • Simply hit the AirPlay button to hear any of the songs on your HomePod

Using Your HomePod as the TV Speaker

Most televisions do not have much to offer in the way of audio quality. While the HomePod is not designed to function as a TV speaker, it can do wonders to enhance your audio experience as you enjoy your favourite show.

Until a short recently, this would only have been possible for Apple TV users. But thanks to the launch of AirPlay 2 on Samsung TVs and a lot more on the way for Sony, LG and Vizio, you can pair your HomePod with lots of TVs.

If you are watching your favourite show on Apple TV, you can transfer the audio to HomePod by holding down the Play/Pause button on the TV remote. Next, select the HomePod option and you will now get your audio from the smart speaker.

In case you want to set it as the default TV speaker:

  • Go to Apple TV Settings and select the Video and Audio settings
  • Choose Audio Output
  • Select your HomePod

Blocking Explicit Content

If the audience in your household has many HomePod listeners and includes children, you might want to block explicit content from your music. Doing so is quite simple:

  • Launch the Home app on your iOS device
  • At the bottom of the screen, tap on “Rooms”
  • Press and hold the HomePod icon
  • Tap on “Details”
  • And finally, toggle the switch adjacent to “Allow Explicit Content”

Streaming Spotify on Your HomePod

Spotify is among the most popular music apps that you will find in the App Store. It provides access to millions of artists as well as songs and much more. Thanks to the latest updates to Apple’s iOS software, it’s now easier than ever to control Spotify using voice.

A new feature known as Siri Shortcuts is now available on devices running iOS 12. To get started, let’s find out how to install and then create Siri Shortcuts:

  • Go to the App Store and download the Shortcuts app
  • To install it, tap “Get Shortcut” and then tap “Open”
  • Go to your library and find the Spotify Siri Shortcut
  • To open the editing screen, tap the three dots and then select “Settings”
  • Enable the Spotify Siri Shortcuts by tapping “Add to Siri”
  • Next, tap the “Record” icon to record your desired command. You may try “Play Spotify” or “Spotify Siri”
  • Tap “Done” twice

From here on, you can access Spotify Shortcuts by activating Siri and saying the phrase you set for initialization. When you do so, Siri will open Shortcuts and then display a box known as the “Dictation Text”

Simply say the song or artist that you are looking for and Siri will launch Spotify and get you the artist or song.

Using Spotify Siri Commands

After you install the Spotify Siri shortcut, you can start using basic Siri commands to control the app.

To Find an Artist

  • Say “Hey Siri, play Spotify”
  • Say “Adele” and Spotify Siri will search for the artist and play the top track

To Find a Song

  • Say, “Hey Siri, play Spotify”
  • Next, say “Swalla by Drake”

Remember that the more specific you are, the higher the likelihood of finding what you are looking for.

Installing and Using Additional Spotify Shortcuts

There are a number of other Spotify shortcuts in the Shortcuts library. These include:

  • Play Spotify track
  • Pay Spotify album
  • Search Spotify artist
  • Search Spotify playlist

Searching for a Playlist

Activate Siri and say your command:

  • “Hey Siri, play Spotify”

Use a specific description to search for the playlist you want, and once Siri finds it, she will play it.

Apple and Spotify May Soon Let You Play Discover Weekly

According to a new report from The Information, Apple and Spotify are said to be in talks about allowing Siri to play music from Discover Weekly, a leading music subscription service. Spotify is looking to take advantage of the capabilities that will be available on iOS 13.

Courtesy of the updates, other music apps on iOS 13 will operate on equal footing with Apple Music when users make requests via Siri voice control. If Spotify makes use of these tools, you may be able to play music from the service without using the Home app on your device or complex shortcuts.

These improvements might end the long-standing tensions between Apple and Spotify as well as other third-party music services.

Playing Music on HomePod When Activating Scenes on HomeKit

At present, you can’t integrate your smart home speaker into HomeKit scenes and automations. With this feature, you could activate your favourite scene together with your favourite music on the HomePod.

But thanks to Siri Shortcuts, you can make this happen by connecting a scene to a playlist on the app. To do so:

  • Open the iOS “Shortcuts” app
  • Tap on “Create Shortcut”
  • Type in “Get Playlist” in the search bar and add it to shortcuts
  • Next, tap “Choose” to select the desired playlist
  • Select “Play Music” and then add it
  • Select “Run Home Scene” and add it
  • Tap “Choose” to select your home and then tap “Choose” to select the scene you want
  • Select the toggle icon, name the shortcut and then tap “Add to Siri” so as to record a trigger phrase
  • Tap “Done”

How to Prevent Other Users from Affecting Your HomePod Music Recommendations

If you have an Apple Music subscription, the service learns your music preferences based on the music you play and your response. But in case you are using your HomePod in a communal setting, other users can really mess up your recommendations.

For example, when the toddler in your house requests a lot of Disney music, Moana songs will probably end up on your list. You can limit the chances of that happening. Here’s how:

  • Open the Home app
  • Long press the HomePad icon and tap “Details”
  • Under “Music & Podcasts” toggle “Use Listening History

We hope you found this list helpful. If you think of anything else you would like to know about HomePod Music commands let us know in the comments below. 

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