How do most people consume music at the moment? They stream it. There are now 524 million people subscribed to one of the streaming services, according to a quick Google search. There are loads of options to choose from too, from the old classic Spotify to offerings from Amazon and Apple.
Apple Music is my streaming app of choice. I like the Hi-res lossless tracks on offer, and the way it blends in with the rest of my Apple kit is extremely helpful. That’s not to say that there aren’t certain elements of the competition that I glance over at with envious eyes. Every time someone posts their Spotify wrapped, I get a little twinge of ‘if only’ with a little Apple logo stamped on it.
While I love Apple Music, I think there are some features that Apple should really look at nabbing from the big green circle. Put an Apple spin on them, and you’ll have, in my eyes, the best streaming service that money can buy.
Features Apple Music needs to steal from Spotify
One of the biggest things I miss after switching over to Apple Music from Spotify is the end-of-year wrapups. This year Apple dipped its toes into something similar, but it lacked the personality of Spotify Wrapped. Introduce something that tells me more than just minutes, and let's have an Apple twist on the formula that makes me want to share my Apple Music listening habits with my friends.
It also lends a certain personality to a streaming service. Spotify is friendly and judgment-free. It’s like that friend you can talk about any music with. Apple Music, on the other hand, feels more like a man in a suit that hands you your music on a CD with something of a sneer when he notices you’re listening to Britney Spears.
Make the service more social
On Spotify, I can connect with my friends and see what they’re listening to, and they can do the same with me. I can link up with them and we can listen to music together, even if we’re in different places or even time zones. It makes music a truly social experience, with shared playlists and party zones. On Apple Music, I can, like, send other people my playlists from my best iPhone. There isn’t an option for them to edit the playlist, to add tracks. They can simply view and listen to it. There’s no real music sharing in Apple Music, no social event, or anything fun I can do with my friends.
Make it more social, Apple. Tell me what my friend is listening to right now, tell them what I’m listening to. Who cares if the tunes are embarrassing - that’s part of the fun.
Bring Podcasts and Audiobooks onboard
Spotify is like a one-stop-shop for pretty much everything. All your favorite podcasts are there, with the library spanning further than most platforms. Then there’s the Audiobooks section, which while not included in a Spotify Premium subscription, ties all the different audio bits and bobs together very tidily. Apple Podcasts on the other hand is a separate app on both Mac and iOS. It even looks different enough that play queues and the like look and feel different between iOS and Apple Music. It’s weird. Audiobooks being a part of the Apple Books app makes some sense, but there could be merit to bringing it over to the Apple Music App. If nothing else, it would really streamline things, and make Apple Music feel like the one-stop-shop that Spotify does.
Let me control my Mac App with my phone and vice versa
Spotify does that cool thing where I can log on to my laptop, and choose to keep listening to Music on my phone or switch over to the Mac app. If I choose to keep listening on my phone, I can then use my Mac app to control the music on my phone, which is perfect if my phone is hooked up on the other side of the room to a cabled HiFi. It’s also really funny if someone has borrowed my account, and I can change the tune to ‘tiptoe through the tulips’ when they thought they’d get Taylor Swift. Hilarious.
Apple Music on the other hand does not do any of that. Instead, it can be a real nightmare of "You have too many devices playing Apple Music" and then simply refusing to let me listen to anything until I’ve closed and reopened the app. Apple Music should tell me where I was listening to last, ask me if I still want to listen there, and then do what I tell it to. Controlling music on my phone is possible with a workaround in Home, but it is a massive pain in the behind. All these things should be simple and blended into the apps so that I don’t notice they’re happening. I thought we were good at that, Apple? Let’s get it sorted. Please.
Improve what plays when an album or playlist finishes
I’ve discovered loads of new music through Spotify radio, with loads of great stuff coming through after my chosen album is finished. The option to have something similar exists within Apple Music, but it’s buried in the settings menu, and usually contains more nonsense than anything I’d actually want to listen to.
It’s obvious that the algorithms to make a good ‘Apple Music Radio’ function exist. Apple simply needs to improve theirs and make more of a deal of it. I personally think Spotify radio is one of the biggest draws to the platform - I can hit play and forget. With Apple Music, I press play and keep an eye on. And there’s something about that that I feel misses the point of streaming music. Help me discover more obscure Swedish death metal, Apple Music. I’ll love you for it.
Gimme a car mode boys, come on
Like many, I am not lucky enough to drive a car that features Apple CarPlay. When I’m driving my car, my phone sits in a cradle next to my steering wheel. Therefore, when I’m listening to music, I want the buttons to be easy to press and not dangerously small so I don’t have to take my eyes off the road. Spotify features a car mode. The buttons grow, and the user interface becomes far more simple. It’s almost like Spotify knows that I need things to be easier to use while you’re driving a car. The coolest bit? It somehow knows when you’re driving, and goes into car mode automatically. Cool.
Apple Music does not do this. I understand that you want me to buy a car with Apple Car Play built-in Apple, but I can’t afford to do that. My car isn’t even that old, for goodness sake. No, just let me press a button before I drive off that lets me activate a car mode and make my journeys that little bit more simple - and safe.
Apple Music could be way better
Apple Music has already taken loads of stuff from Spotify. Those cool moving lyrics videos that let you sing along to tunes, the moving album artwork, and the rubbish new ‘22 Replay website thing. There is still more it can steal, however, proving that a thief's work is never done.
It really needs to take these, though. Apple Music is good, and I’ll keep using it for a long time, but it needs to be great. And it’s really not there yet.
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As iMore's Senior Staff writer, Tammy uses her background in audio and Masters in screenwriting to pen engaging product reviews and informative buying guides. The resident audiophile (or audio weirdo), she's got an eye for detail and a love of top-quality sound. Apple is her bread and butter, with attention on HomeKit and Apple iPhone and Mac hardware. You won't find her far away from a keyboard even outside of working at iMore – in her spare time, she spends her free time writing feature-length and TV screenplays. Also known to enjoy driving digital cars around virtual circuits, to varying degrees of success. Just don't ask her about AirPods Max - you probably won't like her answer.