Sour notes: Our biggest complaints about Apple Music
Apple's new streaming service has a lot going for it, but there are a few things we'd love to see fixed.
Team Macworld has been using Apple Music and digging it (for the most part) for more than a week, but that doesn’t mean Apple’s streaming service is flawless. There are some glaring glitches, irritating features, and bizarre design choices that have us collectively shaking our heads, even as we jam out to the curated playlists and enlist Siri to be our personal DJ.
We need to vent about it, so we compiled a list of our biggest complaints. Have something to add to the list? Share your frustration below.
And let’s hope Apple works out these kinks by the time our free trials are up and iOS 9 is officially released.
The iCloud Music Library mess
Roman: The replacement of album art bug with iCloud Music Library is infuriating. I had a bunch of albums with the wrong art. Album art is important; it helps with usability, serving as icons for your music files. I restored my library using a backup and turned off iCloud Music Library, but that means I can’t use many of Apple Music’s features, like offline listening, or adding songs to My Music.
Oscar: My biggest gripe may be related to the iTunes 12.2 fiasco. I uploaded a lot of remixes to iTunes Cloud Library but it matched them to the original version of the song. It did this with acoustic versions, too! If this doesn’t get fixed then I won’t be switching. Google Play Music All Access plays remixes just fine.
Menus on menus on menus
Leah: Apple Music makes it easy for you to tell it what songs you like, but telling it what you don’t like takes some annoying extra steps. You can indicate that you don’t like an entire album or playlist in your For You section—just tap and hold on the album cover to pull up the option menu and select “I don’t like this suggestion.” And if you’re listening to an artist or genre-based radio station, you can tap the “star” icon and select “Play less like this.” However, the “play less like this” option is only available within stations, and I wish it carried over to playlists.
For example, one of the playlists recommended to me in For You contains a song by Chris Brown—an artist that I don’t ever want to listen to, under any circumstances. I really like the rest of the playlist, however, so I’d love to simply remove that Chris Brown song, or quickly mark it as something to skip instead of having to skip it manually every time. Yes, I could save the playlist to My Music and then remove the song from there, but that involves one of those aforementioned annoying extra steps. Skipping a song doesn’t really signal to Apple that I don’t like a song or artist, either, so I have a feeling I’ll see Chris Brown pop up in other recommended playlists.
And why does the symbol change from a heart to a star just for radio stations? That changes the menu options, which is also confusing and inconvenient!
Susie: The tap-and-hold menu, huge as it is, needs a couple more options: View in Album, and View Artist. Right now you can tap on the top-most strip to see a song’s full album, then tap the (tiny) artist name to see the rest of your work. Neither of those is obvious. And when you go to an artist’s page, there should be a option to just shuffle everything they have. You can see Top Songs, but not all the songs, and even when you go to the list of every single album, there’s no option to play them all. You can tap the ellipses button by their name to Start Station, but that station won’t have just the one artist. If you just want to rock out to Queen until the break of dawn, you’re stuck making a playlist manually. (Which I’ve done.)
Surface the best stuff
Caitlin: Apple has already improved the organization of New, its packed-to-the-gills section of fresh music, by moving curated playlists closer to the top of the screen. But New still has way too much going on. There’s no reason for Hot Tracks to capture the top slot when most people tap on New to see new music (which is actually buried below those curated playlists I love so much). New music needs to lead the New section, followed by new artists, which are currently close to the bottom of your New options.
Oscar: I want Apple Music to surface more activity/mood/time-of-day playlists, not just the artist/genre preference playlists in For You and then dumping the rest way at the bottom in New. For You should take into account the time of day to suggest playlists for cooking dinner, enjoying a cup of coffee first thing in the morn’, or even the weather, like sad songs for a rainy day. Spotify and Google Play Music All Access (via Songza) don’t do this either, but Spotify’s playlists are easier to find/browse, and Google surfaces more focused playlists like “Working to a Beat” and “Throwback Thursday.” Whatever happened to "The Sentence" feature from Beats Music, too?
The social network
Caitlin: Connect was already going to be a tough sell for Apple fans who remember Ping, but it needs to have way more content to be worth tapping on. Part of that is the fault of artists, who need to post exclusives for Apple to promote, but it sounds like Apple could make the process of publishing to Connect easier for musicians.
Leah: Apple Music needs collaborative playlists. The “share” function is fine, but working on playlists with friends is a fun option that is sorely missed here.
Susie: Rdio links the Mac and iPhone apps in a really smart way—when I’m listening on my Mac, I can control the playback with my iPhone, and vice versa. It’s so weird to me that Apple Music doesn’t do this, since Apple is all about passing tasks from one device to the other.