It had long been an inescapable fact about Apple’s iOS operating system for iPhones that you couldn’t change your default apps away from those made by Apple itself. But only a few months after Apple changed course and allowed users to change the default email or browser apps, it now appears that same choice is coming for music-streaming services.
After Apple recently pushed out the first public beta of iOS 14.5, a Reddit user quickly discovered that the first time they asked Siri to play a song after updating, they were given a prompt to pick which streaming service to use. Subsequent prompts then obeyed that selection.
Other users on Reddit and MacRumors confirmed similar experiences. They also confirmed that it works if you specify the streaming service verbally, for example, by saying, “Hey Siri, play Heroes by David Bowie on Spotify.”
Before the iOS 14.5 beta, that “on [service name here]” phrasing was required every time you wanted to play a song on something other than Apple Music. But now, you only need to say “on Spotify” the first time. Well, that seems to be the intention, anyway. This is a beta release, and the users who have shared their experiences say that it’s buggy and inconsistent. Only certain phrases work, and sometimes the selection gets reset.
Assuming the bugs get worked out, this could be a particular boon for Apple’s HomePod speakers. When we reviewed the first HomePod, we criticized it for only working well with Apple Music, while other (sometimes cheaper) smart speakers are more service-agnostic.
We don’t know exactly why Apple has changed course so drastically on default app behaviors for iOS, but one possibility is that the company sees these changes as a way to handicap ongoing and upcoming antitrust investigations and lawsuits.
iOS 14.5 is expected to arrive in early spring and is also expected to introduce the much-discussed controversial user ad-tracking opt-in requirement that companies like Facebook have been battling publicly. Should the default music service behavior change make it to the final public release of iOS 14.5, it’s likely to appear in iPadOS as well.
Listing image by Samuel Axon