While streaming music services have revolutionized an industry that previously relied on selling copies of physical media, there have been a few false notes along the way. Sometimes the issue has been artists claiming that the services do not compensate them appropriately, while in other cases people have been sharing their account passwords with family and friends. In the case of Apple Music, though, the issue is the number of simultaneous streams that you're allowed.
While video services like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime Video readily support multiple streams per account -- so that you can watch one thing on your TV while someone else in the household streams another thing on their phone or tablet -- this has not been the case for music services.
Officially, the standard Apple Music subscription at $10 month permits only one stream per account. To get more, you need the family plan, which costs $15 per month and allows up to six streams. You can also share your iTunes purchases with other members of the plan, via iCloud Family Sharing. The app comes pre-installed on iPhones and iPads, while Android users must get their version separately.
However, there has been one unofficial workaround, until now: the HomePod. That's Apple's smart speaker launched in February 2018 to compete against devices like the Amazon Echo and the Google Home. Through what Apple characterizes as a bug, you were able to stream one thing on a HomePod and another on your phone or tablet.
But according to a discussion on Reddit spotted by 9to5Mac, Apple has finally gotten around to patching this hole, and HomePods will no longer deliver a separate stream, unless you have that $15 per month family plan.
As 9to5Mac points out, Apple's product page for the HomePod does market the ability to play one thing in one room and another thing in another room: "When you add HomePod to multiple rooms, the speakers communicate with each other through AirPlay. So you can ask Siri to play jazz in the living room and the Moana soundtrack in the kids' room -- or to play the same song everywhere in the house -- all from where you're standing."
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The implication is that such a user is subscribed to the family plan that allows this, but there's no fine print on the product page that makes this concrete.
Apple has not made any public statements regarding the number of HomePods that it's sold since launch, but estimates range from 1.5 to 3 million units. Because it's sold at a premium of $349, it's difficult to directly compare its success to that of the Amazon Echo or Google Home, which are listed at $99 and $130, respectively. As for the Google Home Max, priced roughly the same as the HomePod, Google does not publish sales numbers for that specific model.
- 9to5Mac reported on a Reddit discussion where HomePod users discovered that they could no longer stream one thing to the smart speaker and another to a phone or tablet, unless they were on a family plan.
- Apple says that this loophole was created by a bug that it has now fixed, and that a standard $10/mo subscription is supposed to be limited to one stream at a time.
- Apple starts collecting sales tax on iTunes and Apple Music in Canada
- Pandora's new Apple Watch app lets you listen to music offline
- Amazon launches Echo Auto to battle Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
- Apple Music now works on Amazon Alexa smart speakers (CNET)
- Why your smartwatch and wearable devices are the next big privacy nightmare (ZDNet)
- Last Apple Store north of Tokyo closes as Apple faces shrinking sales forecasts (TechRepublic)