There was something of a mystery report this week.

Apple and Spotify are reportedly in talks over potentially allowing Spotify users to control music playback with Siri […]

According to The Information, Spotify and Apple are discussing a “plan” that would “let iPhone users tell Siri to play songs, playlists, and albums with voice commands.” These conversations reportedly stem from new APIs in iOS 13 that make it possible for developers of audio apps to integrate with Siri.

As we noted, it’s unclear why that would require talks, as the SiriKit APIs will allow Spotify or anyone else to take advantage of Siri for music requests. However, there is one rather more radical possibility…

Spotify may be asking Apple to allow iPhone and HomePod users to set Spotify as their default music player.

As things stand, SiriKit music commands would need to be prefixed or suffixed by an instruction to use the Spotify app. This would be something like:

Hey Siri, ask Spotify to play Camille.

Hey Siri, play A Fine Frenzy on Spotify.

With short versions likely also possible, along the lines of:

Hey Siri, Spotify Ingrid Michaelson.

Omit the Spotify part, and the device will default to Apple Music.

Which is fine if, like me, your preferred music service is Apple Music, with Spotify as a secondary option. In my case, I use Spotify for tango music and Apple Music for everything else. That’s partly because Spotify has a better selection of tango music, and partly because I don’t want tango to screw up my Apple Music recommendations.

But if Spotify is your preferred or only music service, you’re forced to use somewhat clunky language. It would be much more convenient for Spotify users if they could simply select Spotify as their default music player. Having done that once, they could then use much simpler commands:

Hey Siri, play Janis Ian.

Hey Siri, play my music.

Hey Siri, play Discover Weekly.

That would benefit many of Apple’s customers, but what about Apple itself? It might seem that Apple would be shooting itself in the foot to help a competing streaming service in this way.

I’d argue the opposite, however. I think Apple would be doing itself a favor on three counts, with almost no downside.

First, those customers who prefer Spotify will be very happy with the change. Making customers happy is kind of customer service 101.

Second, extending this to HomePod would create a whole new customer base. At present, HomePod only really makes sense if you are an Apple Music subscriber. Sure, you can AirPlay from the Spotify app (though there are glitches with stereo pairs — a story for another day…), but then you’re giving up all the smart speaker benefits. Half the point of HomePod is you can just tell it what music to play.

Third, this kind of gesture would help Apple with its various antitrust battles at present, including the one prompted by a Spotify complaint. The Cupertino company would be able to point to it as an example of providing competitors with a level playing field on its platform.

And there’s really no downside. This is not a change customers are going to make randomly. The only people who are going to go to the trouble of digging into the settings to change their default music player are those who are already loyal users of a competing service, be it Spotify, Tidal or whatever. Those people are not really potential Apple Music customers anyway.

So in my view, this would be a win-win: good for Apple, good for its customers. And if Apple doesn’t do it, iOS 13 may include a workaround anyway.

So given people will already have the option, why not claim the credit by making it official?

What’s your take? Please take our poll, and share your thoughts in the comments.

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About the Author

Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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