The Apple Watch and HomePod share a connection in that they are the two most recent new hardware platforms released by Apple. Unfortunately, other than having a variant of iOS at their respective cores, this is all they share. What would seem to be an obvious partnership, with the Apple Watch able to play and control music through the HomePod via AirPlay, is currently an oddly disjointed relationship.
It came as a bit of a surprise to me that there are no direct connections between these two devices. Apple just finished touting the LTE-enabled Apple Watch’s new ability to stream Apple Music, so it seemed natural that the HomePod would be compatible with it out of the box, if through no other means than AirPlay. However, even though AirPlay shows up as an option in the Watch’s Control Center, the HomePod does not appear as an option there.
I found this odd, because Apple’s Remote app on the Watch includes Apple TV Remote control. Unfortunately, this just doesn’t extend to the HomePod, at this time.
When you attempt to play music through the Watch and are forced to select a music source, Bluetooth is the only source option available if you tap Connect a Device. The HomePod obviously doesn’t include Bluetooth compatibility.
Then you have the fact that, even though there is a Home app on the Watch, it isn’t able to connect to the HomePod, either.
I find it very odd that the Remote app can connect to an Apple TV via the Watch’s WiFi radio, but the Home app can’t connect to a HomePod.
Currently, the only way to control music on the HomePod from the Apple Watch is by starting playback on your iPhone, and then directing it through Now Playing on your Watch.
Once you do this, tap the AirPlay symbol in the bottom left of the Watch’s screen and your HomePod will show up in the list of compatible devices. However, this is only possible since the HomePod is compatible with the iPhone via its built-in AirPlay connection.
While it technically works, this process is far more cumbersome than it should be. If the Apple Watch’s Apple Music integration is supposed to be a tent pole feature going forward, then it makes sense to not just pair it up with the AirPods, but also Apple’s new and impressive sounding home speaker. The Watch has WiFi built in and AirPlay is shown on the device rather than just Bluetooth alone, so you would think that this should all “just work.’
However, for now it seems that Apple Watch control is yet another potential HomePod feature that must be labeled as “maybe someday.” I understand that Siri and its related intelligent assistant features still need to baked a bit longer to be ready for prime time. I get that. However, the HomePod was sold as a music-first device. You would think that their hit wearable would work with it right out of the gate. Since it doesn’t, who knows when this direct control capability will come. I am hoping that watchOS 4 will deliver it, AirPlay 2 and all, but there is no way to know that now. Until WWDC, remote control of the iPhone via the Watch is the only option.