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Siri can interact with streaming media apps like Spotify in iOS 12

Apple appears to be relaxing its grip on Siri's media capabilities, as the company is building a new "Play Media" integration into iOS 12 that opens the door to compatibility with third-party streaming services like Spotify.

Siri Shortcuts

Apple product manager Kim Beverett demos Siri Shortcuts at WWDC 2018. | Source: Apple


Detailed in a developer session on Wednesday, "Play Media" is a new Siri intent that allows users to control the playback of media in third-party apps, reports TechCrunch. Currently, Siri can open streaming apps, but is unable to play songs from third-party sources.

Part of iOS 12's Siri Shortcuts feature, developers can integrate "Play Media" to provide users voice assistant controls to play audio and video from non-Apple apps. Whether the intent allows for deeper functionality, like pointing directly to a specific song or playlist, remains to be seen. Also unknown is how the feature works on HomePod, a device that restricts native audio playback to Apple Music and Podcasts.

"Play Media" was shown off during Apple's keynote on Monday. when Apple product manager Kim Beverett used the app's drag-and-drop editor to add the action "Play KQED Radio" to a customized Shortcut called "Heading Home" which, among other intents, commanded Siri to query Maps for a navigation route, send a custom text via Messages and set a home thermostat.

The Shortcuts behavior package is at this point limited to step-by-step actions, meaning "Play Media" is likewise restricted to one-off commands like the "Play KQED Radio" example provided in Apple's keynote. Once the music is playing, however, Siri can fall back on existing capabilities to skip tracks, pause and perform other audio management tasks.

Siri integration with Apple Music is of course much more robust. Users are furnished with voice alternatives for nearly every control accessible via the app's onscreen interface.

Still, the new intent's inclusion suggests Apple is slowly moving toward a more open experience, one that embraces third-party streaming apps that compete with its own services. It is now up to developers to take advantage of the platform.