At a developer session of WWDC on Wednesday, “Play Media” was announced as a new Siri intent that will allow users to control the media being played via third party apps. As of now, Siri is capable of opening streaming apps but does not have the functionality to play songs from them.
The “Play Media” intent will provide users voice assistant controls for playing audio and video from non-Apple apps. This was first reported by TechCrunch.
However, there is no word on how deep the integration will be in terms of functionality. It is yet to seen if users can ask for a specific song or playlist or not.
While this development is indeed exciting, it remains to be seen if this functionality would be extended to HomePod which actually restricts native audio playback to Apple Music.
The entire Shortcuts behavior package is currently limited to step-by-step actions. This means “Play Media” is limited to one-off commands like “Play KQED Radio” which was a part of Apple’s keynote on Monday. After the audio has started playing, Siri goes to work in the background, listening for commands like skip tracks, pause, or perform other audio management tasks.
Siri is integrated with Apple Music in a much more airtight manner. Users are given voice alternatives for almost all controls accessible via the onscreen interface of the app.
This is a step from Apple towards a more open experience where Siri embraces third-party streaming apps that may even compete with its own services.
This new functionality will be made available as a part of iOS 12 that Apple unveiled earlier this week.