Apple Music coming to Amazon's Echo speaker range on December 17
Owners of the Amazon Echo device range will soon be able to listen to Apple Music through the smart speakers, the retailer advises, with Apple's streaming music service expanding its reach to the Alexa-powered audio hardware starting from the week of December 17.
Announced via the Amazon corporate blog, Apple Music subscribers will be able to make requests to Alexa to play from Apple Music's catalog of 50 million songs through the Echo devices. Aside from individual artists and songs, users will be able to request any playlist made by Apple Music's editors available on the service, as well as expert-curated radio stations from different genres, and even to listen to Apple's digital radio station Beats 1.
To use the facility, users have to enable a new Apple Music skill in the Alexa app, followed by linking their account.
While the skill will be made available from December 17, it is unclear if it will apply only to users in the United States at launch before a wider rollout, or if Echo devices in other countries where Apple Music is also available will also gain the support at the skill's launch.
"We are committed to offering great music providers to our customers and since launching the Music Skill API to developers just last month, we've expanded the music selection on Alexa to include even more top tier services," said Amazon Devices senior vice president Dave Limp. "We're thrilled to bring Apple Music - one of the most popular music services in the U.S. - to Echo customers this holiday."
While Apple Music wasn't previously supported by the Amazon Echo via Alexa requests, the workaround to play Apple Music tracks effectively used the Echo as a Bluetooth speaker. The addition of the Alexa Skill will enable verbal requests through Amazon's digital assistant, but it won't enable other ways of playing music, such as by adding AirPlay support.
Considering the Amazon Echo range is competing with Apple's own HomePod, the addition of Apple Music onto a rival platform may seem unusual, but it offers a number of benefits to many users. For Apple, it significantly increases the number of devices that can stream Apple Music, as Amazon has a considerable existing install base of the Echo, Echo Dot, and other models.
Amazon will benefit from having even more music service options available to consumers on the Echo range, along with Spotify, Amazon Music, Pandora, and others.
For consumers, this presents the opportunity to add numerous Apple Music-compatible speakers to their home, and in the case of the Echo Dot, at a far lower cost than buying a HomePod. While unclear, it is also possible the feature will work with other speakers and devices that use Alexa from third-party vendors, including Sonos and Bose.
News of the new skill arrives shortly after the two companies made a deal to make new Apple products available on Amazon from Apple directly and authorized resellers from January 4.