I've been an Apple Music subscriber since the service launched in 2015, and I've always been quite happy with the service. Last year, I even tried other services — like Spotify and YouTube Music— and I still felt that Apple Music came out on top. So, when Apple launched the Apple Music Voice Plan, I was intrigued by the idea of being able to pay less for the service.
So, I canceled my individual membership and signed up for the Apple Music Voice Plan, excited to see what it had to offer. After just over a month with the service, I've discovered the good, the bad, and the ugly, so you don't have to. Here's what I think of the Apple Music Voice Plan.
Apple Music Voice Plan: The Good
Let's start off with the good. Siri controls Apple Music quite well, and if you use Siri a lot, it won't take long for you to learn how to use Apple Music Voice Plan.
Want to play a song? Ask Siri. Want to play a specific album? Ask Siri. Want to play Indie Rock? Ask Siri. It really is that simple, and since the entire Apple Music catalog is available to you on this plan, you'll likely be able to find any song, album, or artist you want.
The Apple Music Voice Plan really shines on the HomePod. Since you have to use Siri to control music on the HomePod mini directly, having the Apple Music Voice Plan doesn't feel any different from having a standard Apple Music plan. In fact, if I only (or primarily) listened to Apple Music on my HomePod mini, I would likely have a much different opinion on the Apple Music Voice Plan as a whole because it's a lovely experience on that device.
I also am a big fan of the playlists that Apple added to the service to be able to find music for a specific mood or activity. I quickly found a few of my favorites and you likely will too, but since Apple plans on updating them pretty frequently, and they all seem to feature a pretty wide variety of music, they are straightforward to appreciate. I'm not entirely sure how to explain it, but heading out for a Friday morning latte while throwing on the Morning Coffee playlist just feels awesome — like you're the main character in a movie.
This brings me to the biggest pro of the Apple Music Voice Plan: Siri is getting better for all Apple Music subscribers. Because Apple is putting time and effort into making Siri better for the Apple Music Voice Plan, it will get better for everyone. Whether it just be slight bug fixes or by adding a ton of new playlists for specific activities or moods that everyone can access, Siri will improve and has already. The best news? You don't need the Apple Music Voice Plan to benefit either. It will just happen.
Apple Music Voice Plan: The Bad
Did you, like me, buy a pair of AirPods lately? Maybe the new AirPods 3? Well, the Apple Music Voice Plan won't let you take advantage of all the features of your AirPods, namely Spatial Audio. As someone who bought the AirPods 3, I was very excited to enjoy Spatial Audio; it sucks to not be able to take advantage of the feature on my best pair of earbuds.
Now, you might not care about Spatial Audio, and that's fine, but if you're a fan of Lossless Audio, that's also inaccessible to you with the Apple Music Voice Plan. Arguably, the biggest feature Apple Music has over competitors like Spotify is Lossless Audio, and you have to be willing to part with that.
Lastly, it sucks to not be able to play a song by tapping on it in the Music app. You can still browse the entire Apple Music catalog, scroll through albums, and find everything like you're used to, but you can't play anything by tapping on it. You have to use Siri. This is fine when you're at home or not around people, but if you're in the grocery store and you want to switch what you're listening to, you'll need to invoke Siri's help to do so, and that eventually got old for me.
Apple Music Voice Plan: The Ugly
When switching to the Apple Music Voice Plan, I expected some trade-offs. After all, paying a lower price does mean you'll get fewer features, but the most significant offense of the Apple Music Voice Plan is that you can't create playlists.
You have access to anything you've created before, so your entire library is still intact when you switch to the Apple Music Voice Plan, but the inability to add songs to playlists (existing or new ones) is very upsetting. I was surprised when I first tried and got the screen that told me I had to upgrade. I never thought adding songs to an existing playlist would be a problem, and for the first two or three weeks, I didn't even know this was an issue.
To be fair, you may not care about this at all, but finding new music and adding it to your existing playlists or creating new playlists for certain activities, months of the year, or different vibes is a fundamental part of listening to music on any service for me. I think lots of people would take issue with this.
The Apple Music Voice Plan just isn't for me. I want Spatial and Lossless Audio, and the lack of control over my music is just more frustrating than it's worth.
If you primarily listen to Apple Music at home, or you often like to have background music playing from your HomePod while entertaining guests, I can see the Apple Music Voice Plan as an excellent fit for you.
I'm happy it exists because I believe it will make Siri better, and it is a low-cost option to try out Apple Music if you've been hesitant to take the service for a test run.
Luke Filipowicz has been a writer at iMore, covering Apple for nearly a decade now. He writes a lot about Apple Watch and iPad but covers the iPhone and Mac as well. He often describes himself as an "Apple user on a budget" and firmly believes that great technology can be affordable if you know where to look. Luke also heads up the iMore Show — a weekly podcast focusing on Apple news, rumors, and products but likes to have some fun along the way.
Luke knows he spends more time on Twitter than he probably should, so feel free to follow him or give him a shout on social media @LukeFilipowicz.
A major problem is that despite Siri being available in lots of languages, you cannot mix languages. Try to request any foreign artist or a song in a different language, and you come close to smashing your HomePods. Siri will absolutely get it wrong every single time. I listened to music in many languages and Siri fails me every time. Just imagine if you would like classical music. Siri has to improve dramatically before they even charge a cent for the plan-
I tried to sign up for Apple Music Voice Plan, but was told that since I had an Apple Music Plan in the past, I could not sign up for it.
All this exposes one flaw about AI and why it won’t take over anytime soon. If Siri is set to English and I decide to speak to it in Spanish or Japanese, and it will not be able to understand at all. That alone makes AM Voice only and Siri useless for me.
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