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For Apple, competing with Spotify these days must be like shooting fish in a barrel, with an elephant gun, at point-blank range. It’s not just that Apple Music has a massive advantage over Spotify in the quality of its content library, but rather that Spotify keeps handing its customers to Apple on a silver platter by taking months or even years to support even the most basic features of the Apple ecosystem.
Spotify has been accusing Apple of anti-competitive behavior for years, including assertions that Apple deliberately hampers rival streaming services by locking them out of platform features that are otherwise available to its own Apple Music app.
While Spotify isn’t entirely wrong, it’s also hard for it to take the moral high ground when it fails to adopt new features when Apple opens them up.
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For example, when Apple released the original HomePod in early 2018, one of the chief complaints many had against it was the limited support for any streaming music services beyond Apple Music. Yet, when Apple finally announced support for third-party music services in 2020, Spotify was conspicuously absent from the list — despite loudly complaining over a year earlier that Apple was “locking Spotify and other competitors out of Apple services such as Siri, HomePod, and Apple Watch.”
At that point, the ball was clearly in Spotify’s court, yet the company refused to pick it up, much less run with it. Even Deezer quickly added HomePod support, yet Spotify doesn’t appear to be even entertaining the idea at this point.
While HomePod support doesn’t seem to be on the table, Spotify did commit to supporting AirPlay 2, which could offer a reasonable workaround for iPhone users with HomePods, Apple TVs, or other AirPlay-compatible devices. However, it’s anybody’s guess when that’s actually going to arrive.
To make matters worse, unlike the HomePod, Apple has never limited third-party support for its AirPlay streaming protocol. AirPlay 2 made its debut in 2018 and was available to third-party developers from the very beginning. Spotify users have been clamoring for it since early 2019.
Those requests appeared to fall mostly on deaf ears until August 2021, when Spotify initially said it had no plans to add it before reversing course a few days later to confirm that “Spotify will support Airplay 2.”
However, the company notably didn’t commit to a time frame, and anybody who had followed Spotify’s glacial adoption of other Apple features probably wasn’t holding their breath. After all, it took until 2018 for Spotify to release an Apple Watch app that was little more than a glorified remote control for the Spotify iPhone app — something the company should have been able to do in 2015.
It wasn’t until two years later that the watchOS app gained direct streaming support and six months after that before offline playback came to the wearable. The company acknowledged that “With Watch OS 5, Apple allowed the Spotify team to start developing offline functionality” in September 2018, but it took them over two years before they were able to deliver the feature.
AirPlay 2 Is Coming ‘Eventually’
So, it’s probably unsurprising that AirPlay 2 support is a marathon for Spotify rather than a sprint. The good news is that it looks like the company hasn’t forgotten about its commitment, even if it remains noncommittal about when it will happen.
In this week’s Power On newsletter at Bloomberg, Mark Gurman says Spotify has told him that, while there’s no hope for HomePod support, AirPlay 2 is still on the roadmap. Sort of.
Spotify remains committed to supporting AirPlay 2 at some point in the future. We’re on a path towards making it happen eventually, but we cannot state when that will be at this stage.Spotify, in a statement to Mark Gurman
To say that AirPlay 2 isn’t a priority for Spotify is clearly an understatement. Nearly five years after Apple debuted the more capable wireless streaming standard, Spotify remains vague about when it will be able to deliver on it.
What About the HomePod?
As for the HomePod, Spotify told Gurman that there isn’t a “significant volume” of complaints about the lack of HomePod support. Spotify claims there are only “18 comments on Reddit and 138 tweets about the issue.”
We have to assume they’ve missed the 161-page thread with 6,007 votes on their own community forums, which has been consistently building since the feature request was first made in June 2020.
I guess 158 pages over 3 years isn’t a “significant volume” of complaints…milanstojanov, Spotify Community Forums
When we last reported on this in November 2021, the thread sat at 104 pages. It’s been growing steadily since then, filled almost entirely with frustration from Spotify customers at the company’s intransigence. Many have already left for Apple Music, while others appear to be loyal subscribers genuinely saddened and frustrated by the lack of support and are reluctantly considering a switch to Apple Music just to get proper support for their Apple devices.