What happened to Apple Music in iOS 10?

Macworld | Jul 26, 2016

Apple Music's redesign was supposed to make easier to use, but iOS 10 only makes Apple’s streaming service more complicated.

Just as I was starting to fall in love with Apple Music, things started to get complicated in iOS 10.

It’s been about a year since Apple Music first hit the app waves. Since then, the music service has racked up 15 million paid subscribers, as well as the love and admiration of the one and only Taylor Swift.

Apple Music wasn’t the most intuitive service to begin with, and it definitely took me a few weeks to get the hang of it. So in iOS 10, Apple set out to simplify the user-experience. However, when I got to play with it in public beta, Apple Music actually seemed more complicatt ed.

Remember when all you could do with a song was play it? Well, in the current version of iOS 9, you can do a lot more: Apple Music uses icons near the top to mark where to download, like, share or start a radio station. Now in iOS 10 all those same options get their own little box, so you have to swipe down just to see them all. This takes up so much space, it’s almost obnoxious or “horsey” as my designer friends would say.

Sure, the new Lyrics button seems necessary... until you realize you can also just pull up and see the lyrics for any given song. In fact, you have to swipe all the way down past the lyrics just to play a song on repeat, or shuffle or see what’s Up Next. And this whole time I thought this new Apple Music update was supposed to be more intuitive.

In addition, Apple Music now has a Like and a Dislike button. Two separate buttons. Couldn’t they just have kept the one heart that turns red? This dual-heart system may be better for the revamped For You section. Or a future version of it, because in public beta, For You is not very impressive. Basically, it just shows you songs you’ve played recently or played nonstop. And the albums and playlists that are recommended daily are based on general music genres that I listen to. It doesn’t feel personalized at all. It’s the equivalent of someone saying, oh so you listen to Led Zeppelin, you’re just going to love the Dave Matthews Band.

The For You tab is not doomed, however, especially because the iOS 10 public beta hasn’t revealed its flashiest new feature, the Discovery Mix playlist. A blatant ripoff of Spotify’s Discover Weekly, this forthcoming playlist will go through your musical tastes – your likes and dislikes – to generate a soundtrack for the week. For me, they’ll get it right if they play Rihanna and Led Zeppelin on repeat.

But I should mention that my initial reactions to Apple Music are all based on iOS 10 public beta, so it’s very likely that Apple will make some subtle tweaks before the final release in the fall. And they better, because right now Apple Music is making Google Play Music seeem like a walk in the park.