How to Connect and Use Apple Airplay with HomePod

homepod in black
image credit: Apple Inc.

Out of the box, the only sources of audio that the Apple HomePod natively supports are those controlled by Apple: Apple Music, iCloud Music Library, Beats 1 Radio, etc. ​But what if you want to listen to Spotify, Pandora, or other sources of audio with HomePod? No problem. You just need to use AirPlay. This article shows you how.

What Is AirPlay?

AirPlay and AirPlay Mirroring
image credit: Hoxton/Tom Merton/Getty Images

AirPlay is an Apple technology that lets you stream audio and video to from an iOS device or a Mac to a compatible receiver. A receiver could be a speaker like the HomePod or a third-party speaker, an Apple TV, or even a Mac. 

AirPlay is built in at the operating system level of the iOS (for iPhones, iPads, and iPod touch), the macOS (for Macs,) and tvOS (for Apple TV). Because of that, there's no extra software to install and virtually any audio or video that can be displayed on those devices can be streamed over AirPlay.

All you need to use AirPlay is a device that supports it, a compatible receiver, and for both devices to be on the same Wi-Fi network. Pretty simple!

When to Use AirPlay with HomePod

homepod
image credit: Apple Inc.

There's a chance you won't ever need to use AirPlay with HomePod. That's because HomePod has native, built-in support for Apple Music,  iTunes Store purchases, all the music in your iCloud Music Library, Beats 1 Radio, and the Apple Podcasts app. If those are your only sources of music, you can just talk to Siri on the HomePod to play music.

However, if you prefer your audio from other sources—for instance, Spotify or Pandora for music, Overcast or Castro for podcasts, iHeartradio or NPR for live radio—the only way to get HomePod to play them is using AirPlay. Luckily, because AirPlay is built into the operating systems as mentioned above, this is pretty easy.

How to Use Apps Like Spotify and Pandora with HomePod

Using AirPlay with HomePod and Apps

To play music from Spotify, Pandora, or virtually any other app that plays music, podcasts, audiobooks, or other kinds of audio, follow these steps:

  1. Launch the app you want to use.
  2. Find the AirPlay button. This will probably be located on the screen that is displayed while you play audio. It will be in a different location in each app (it could be in sections like output, devices, speakers, etc.). Look for an option to change where the audio is playing or for the AirPlay icon: a rectangle with a triangle coming into it from the bottom. (This is shown in the Pandora screenshot for this step).
  3. Tap the AirPlay button.
  4. In the list of devices that comes up, tap the name of your HomePod (the name you gave it during set up; it's probably the room it's located in).
  5. The music from the app should start playing from the HomePod almost immediately.

How to Select AirPlay and HomePod in Control Center

using homepod with control center

There's another way to stream music to the HomePod using AirPlay: Control Center. This works for virtually any audio app and can be used whether you're in the app or not. 

  1. Begin playing audio from any app.
  2. Open Control Center by swiping up from the bottom (on most iPhone models) or down from the top right (on the iPhone X).​
  3. Locate the music controls in the top-right corner of Control Center. Tap them to expand.
  4. On this screen, you'll see a list of all compatible AirPlay devices to which you can stream audio.
  5. Tap your HomePod (as above, likely named for the room it's placed in).​
  6. If the music stopped ​playing, tap the play/pause button to resume.​
  7. Close Control Center. ​​

How to Play Audio From a Mac on HomePod

using homepod on Mac

Macs aren't left out of the HomePod fun. Since they also support AirPlay, you can play music from any program on your Mac through the HomePod, too. There are two ways to do this: at the OS level or within a program like iTunes.

  • At the OS Level: 
    • Click the Sound control in the top right corner of the menu bar (it looks like a speaker).
    • Click on your HomePod to select it.
    • Play audio from any app.
  • From Within iTunes:
    • Click the AirPlay button to the left of the panel at the top of the window.
    • Click on your HomePod.
    • Play music in iTunes.

The Future: AirPlay 2 and Multiple HomePods

homepod with siri
image credit: Apple Inc.

AirPlay is pretty useful now, but its successor is going to make the HomePod particularly powerful. AirPlay 2, which is set to debut later in 2018, will add two very cool features to the HomePod:

  • Stereo Pairing: Put two HomePods in a single room and they'll act like a surround-sound system. The HomePods will be aware of each other, and the room, and collaborate to create an immersive audio experience. 
  • Multiroom Audio: If you have multiple HomePods throughout your house, you'll be able to have them all play the same music, or all play different music, and control them from a single Apple device.