Apple Music is a fast-growing staple of the music streaming industry, challenging the once-dominant Spotify for the title of music king.
In the United States, Apple Music has already become the nation’s top streaming app, and a growing number of music lovers are looking for easy ways to listen to it in their homes.
Smart Home Devices That Work With Apple Music
A good question for anyone buying new home devices is: What Smart Home devices work with Apple Music? Here’s a list of all the top Smart Home devices that will work with Apple Music Apps:
- Homepod and Apple TV
- Amazon Echo Products
- Most Smart TVs
- Windows PCs and Laptops
While this may seem like a short list, it covers the largest variety of products that you are likely to run into when upgrading to a smart home device.
Unfortunately, many of the products covered come with some caveats. Keep reading to ensure you know what you should purchase to best meet your specific needs and desires.
1. Apple Devices (Homepod and Apple TV)
Unsurprisingly, Apple’s newest ecosystem of home devices offers an effective, one-stop way to connect with their signature streaming service.
The Homepod, which is essentially Apple’s answer to the Amazon Echo, can connect directly to the Apple Music cloud via WiFi, as can newer Apple TVs that offer the Apple Music app.
For many people upgrading their Smart Home device, getting an Apple-based selection is definitely the way to go. If you are already an iPhone or Mac user, integrating all your devices is going to be a lot more seamless if you go this route.
If you are not currently on the “Apple bandwagon” and are looking for simple ways to connect all of your devices, this gateway could be a good place to start.
One caveat: For 1st to 3rd generation Apple TVs, it is necessary to stream Apple Music from another device (the Homepod or an iPod/iPad) via either Bluetooth or AirPlay (WiFi-based streaming that overcomes some of the distance limitations on Bluetooth and tries to improve sound quality on streaming devices).
Still, setup is somewhat easier on Apple devices than most of the other options on this list.
2. Amazon Echo (Stream Only)
A slight latecomer to the scene, due to its rivalry with Apple, Amazon added Apple Music support to its signature Alexa application in 2018.
Setting it up is not quite as easy or intuitive as the Apple brand of products, but it is possible to add the service through the Alexa app’s settings and preferences on a smartphone device, allowing you to stream your library through Echo and other Amazon devices.
While Apple Music is not built into Amazon products and setting it up requires a little more legwork, this might be a good solution for budget conscious streamers. This provides the option for people who do not want to spend too much money building a full Apple ecosystem in their home but still want to take advantage of its superior streaming service without dipping into their savings.
In addition to Echo, the music service is also available through devices like the Firestick for TV.
In case you are interested, here are the steps to set up Apple Music on Alexa:
- Open Alexa on your phone
- Select Menu
- Select Settings
- Go to Alexa Preferences
- Select Music
- Select Link New Service
- Select Apple Music, and hit Enable
- Sign In
3. Smart TVs (AirPlay 2)
As Apple’s prominence in the streaming industry has grown, several television companies have rushed to take advantage of the new market for Apple compatible devices.
Apple’s website lists several major television producers including:
All of these companies have modified their newest line of TVs to sync with Apple devices via AirPlay 2 (an updated version of AirPlay which allows simultaneous streaming to multiple devices).
Basically, this makes smart TVs controllable by newer Apple devices and adds them to the overall home entertainment network.
A Word of Caution on Smart TVs: When it comes to smart TVs, most of them only enabled this feature from 2018 onward. If you are buying a smart TV that is over a year old, there is a good chance that it will not automatically link up with the Apple ecosystem in your home.
Make sure you check the specifications on your new TV if you are looking for something to run your Apple Music library from the living room.
4. Windows PCs & Laptops (Windows 7 and Later)
This might seem counter-intuitive, given that Windows and Apple occupy opposite ends of the home computer market, but it is very possible to turn your Windows OS device into a perfectly serviceable Apple Music hub.
All you need to get started is to install iTunes 12.2 or later on your device, and you will have access to your full library of music and radio stations at the click of a mouse.
Setting up your Apple Music ecosystem around your laptop brings several advantages: Most modern laptops have more means of connecting and streaming to outside devices than the other devices listed here and are generally built with a wider range of compatibility.
TVs, speakers, and other Bluetooth devices have a long history of formatting to Windows specifications, allowing you to control them all from a single, intuitive, relatively portable control center.
Another word of caution: iTunes 12.2 is not available on computers with Windows Vista or any earlier OS. That means that if your computer does not run on at least a Windows 7 operating system, this solution will not work for you.
What Devices Are Not Yet Compatible With Apple Music?
If you already purchased a device, or you happen to be helping a friend (or perhaps a relative?) figure out how to stream music, I wanted to make sure to help you out.
So which devices don’t work with Apple Music yet? The four major players that either just do not have perfect compatibility yet, or require workarounds that make them impractical for streaming the service are:
- Google Home (for now)
- Roku TV Stick (impractical)
- Most Video Game Consoles
- Nvidia Shield
1. Google Home (Streaming Possible, Direct Method Maybe In the Works?)
For those who do not know, Google Home is a family of home speakers meant to compete with Amazon’s Echo and Apple’s Homepod. It offers many of the same services like these, but one thing it has not learned to do is offer an official built-in Apple Music portal as Amazon did last year.
As of now, the only way to make a Google Home device run Apple is to stream it from another compatible device. (Fortunately, most Android phones seem to qualify.)
As long as you are comfortable using your Google Home as just a glorified speaker, this could be your solution. Unfortunately, if you are reading this, you are probably not comfortable with a smart device used as a dumb device.
Future Plans: Although it is not currently working, that may not be the status quo forever. Several reports, such as this one, from earlier this year note that a recent update of the Google Home’s control app briefly displayed an inactive, but unmistakable, the portal to add Apple Music as an innate streaming service.
Subsequent updates have removed this feature, however, and Google itself has been mum on the subject. So if you are looking for a device with official Apple support, it may be best to wait and see before investing in a Google Home device for this purpose.
2. Roku TV Stick (Workaround Possible, but Not Worth It)
The Roku media device has a lot to recommend it: It connects to your TV, essentially turning it “smart” and allowing it an interface to stream services like Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu. Sadly, however, it does not include a built-in option for streaming Apple Music.
While it is technically possible to use your phone as a workaround to stream to your Roku, it is not advisable: The only way we have found to run Apple Music on this device is a roundabout method using the Roku App on your phone to indirectly stream while simultaneously running the Apple Music app.
This is a time waster and battery drainer at best. If your main reason for looking at a Roku is as a portal to your Apple library, you might want to give it a pass.
3. Most Mainstream Video Game Consoles
A lot of people enjoy using their Playstation or Xbox system as an all-in-one home player for movies and music. For Apple Music, however, this is not an optimal solution.
Neither Sony nor Microsoft stores offer Apple Music as a built-in service for their devices, and while there are workarounds for the newest line of systems (AirPlay for the Xbox One and a DLNA workaround or saving Apple music tracks to a USB drive for the PS4), neither one offers a significant advantage over the far cheaper options listed in our selection of compatible devices above.
As a side note from the two main competitors in the console market, there also does not appear to be any major Apple support for the Nintendo Switch, aside from a voice chat app for phones.
Long story short: if your main reason for buying a shiny new console is Apple Music, the price point for these devices (well over $200 in most cases) and the hassle of setting it up is just not worth it compared to other devices that can accomplish this task far easier and for far less overall cost.
4. Nvidia Shield (Workaround Possible, but it Gets Technical)
Traditional consoles are clearly a poor choice as an Apple Music medium, but what about experimental ones? The Nvidia Shield is an Android device that touts itself as a media playback center and a console all in one.
With access to Android apps and a different library of software, can it deliver what the top console developers could not?
It can, but with a major asterisk: There is no traditional, built-in way to install Android’s Apple Music app on this device, but as a machine that runs on Android software, the Shield, this has access to a technique that has been used on many devices (such as Amazon’s Kindle Fire) to give it access to applications it would not normally be able to run: Sideloading.
Briefly, it is possible to add the Apple Music app indirectly by moving the .apk installation file over to the Nvidia and installing it manually, but doing it this way is not intuitive for newcomers to the platform and, since it was never formatted specifically for the Shield, its compatibility and usefulness would be less than ideal.
As far as this device is concerned, it’s better to wait for the technology and software to be updated naturally rather than trying to force it to fit now.
What’s the difference between AirPlay 1 and 2?
In popular language, the two are nearly synonymous: Airplay and its newest incarnation, Airplay 2, share similar features; they are both an Apple streaming solution that allows streaming to devices on a shared home network. Where Airplay 2 differs, however, is in versatility.
Airplay 2 allows the option of streaming media to more than one device at a time, whereas Airplay 1 was bound to a single connection. This has a variety of applications including stereo setup (for instance, allowing different earbuds to play left-right variations) and making television pairing more practical.
Airplay 2 is backward compatible with Airplay 1 devices, however, and the term “Airplay” has been generally understood to include both.
Can I play Apple Music tracks on normal mp3 players?
A possibility we have covered briefly in our examination of consoles was the idea that Apple Music tracks can be individually saved and transferred to storage drives for play on different devices. This begs the question: Can Apple tracks be transferred to a simple MP3 player for playback?
The answer, sadly, is no: iTunes and Apple music encrypt their music files in an unconventional .m4a format. Most conventional music players are only formatted to recognize and playback non-encrypted .mp3 and .wma files.
While it is possible for some non-Apple affiliated music players to run Apple music (the PS4’s native media center is an easy example) simply transferring and playing the tracks on a baseline MP3 player is not possible without investing far too much time and too many resources running file conversion.
I worry about my privacy with these new “smart” devices, can I use something else to play Apple Music?
A lot of these new smart devices are more versatile than they seem. They are built to record voices, and they can be activated by a lot of unusual phrases (for example, through Alexa’s Skills app) which could be taken advantage of by third parties.
Also, it sometimes takes some familiarity with the device and a certain amount of effort to disable unnecessary listening phrases.
Fortunately, there are some alternatives for concerned music lovers who do not want the hassle of securing these devices:
- Connecting a “dumb” Bluetooth or auxiliary speaker to a smartphone might be a reasonable alternative for some, especially if the phone’s data collection settings have been shut down.
- PCs, as mentioned before, make good Apple Music hubs, and there are plenty of easy software options (VPNs, Firewalls, etc.) to automatically ensure the PC isn’t sending out information it shouldn’t.
Ultimately, your privacy comes down to how much personal effort you are willing to make and how much risk you consider acceptable.
With basic precautions, however, you should be able to secure whatever home theater you choose against unwanted surveillance.
What is a smart home device, and how does a smart home device work?
A smart home device is a device that connects to the internet in order to assist in monitoring and managing typical home functions from a remote location. This can include but is not limited to lighting, heating, music, alarms, and televisions.
Smart home devices can be used by people from all types of backgrounds and cultures, regardless of previous use or experience.
Smart home devices can be connected via WiFi or ethernet cables, and are usually equipped to be commanded by your phone, a remote, or can even be controlled by voice command.
Having multiple smart devices means you may be able to create a “web” of sorts, automating many functions throughout your house from each device. The most common of these devices are “pods” – such as the Amazon Echo or the Google Homepod – that make it possible to get hundreds of tasks done and connect many of these devices together.
Whether you are typically an Android or Apple user, smart home devices can be a handy tool to add to your daily life. Not only are you increasing your technological capacity, but you are also creating an optimal space for these daily functions to be carried out.