Music streaming service Gaana now supports hands-free streaming through voice commands on the Apple HomePod mini. The smart speaker from Apple is priced at Rs. 9,900 in India, and supports direct streaming of Apple Music as a default service, but the addition of Gaana adds a new streaming service and its entire library to Siri's capabilities on the HomePod mini. Gaana has a library of over 45 million tracks across 25 languages, and largely covers music in various Indian languages.
Gaana's service is available in both free and paid tiers, and support for hands-free streaming on the HomePod mini works regardless of whether you're on the free or paid plan. Gadgets 360 was able to successfully test the feature on the Apple HomePod mini on a free plan.
The service needs to be activated on the Gaana app on iOS first, and has to be done on a device which is linked to the HomePod mini using Apple's Home app. To set up Gaana to stream on the HomePod mini, users need to go to the Settings > Connect with HomePod, and then follow the on-screen instructions to complete the process.
Once complete, users can have the HomePod mini play tracks from Gaana using voice commands, such as “Hey Siri, play (track name) on Gaana”. This is a notable change, as the HomePod range earlier only supported hands-free music streaming from the company's own Apple Music streaming service.
It is possible to stream music from other services such as Spotify and Amazon Music, but this requires the use of a smartphone as the controller, with an AirPlay connection between the smartphone and the HomePod mini.
Unlike smart speakers from Google and Amazon, the Apple HomePod and HomePod mini are fairly limited it their support for third-party services, with a focus on Apple Music as the default service for hands-free streaming. And although the speaker is Bluetooth enabled, you can't directly pair it to play music from your phone or other devices — the only way to stream other services and content is through Apple AirPlay.
However, the introduction of direct hands-free streaming of Gaana on the HomePod mini suggests that Apple could be opening up its ecosystem for the smart speaker, and other services could similarly support hands-free streaming going forward.
Is HomePod mini the best smart speaker under Rs. 10,000? We discussed this on Orbital, the Gadgets 360 podcast. Orbital is available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, and wherever you get your podcasts.