Tech4 Fixes for the Biggest Annoyances in Apple Music
A shortlist of tiny grievances.
By now, we’ve all had enough time to settle into Apple’s iOS 10. It’s coming brings us such technological advances as stickers, sketching dicks in text messages, and the option to delete apps like Stocks that we never wanted in the first place. But it's not all so exciting as that! With a new operating system, Apple has radically overhauled Apple Music, peppering it with inconveniences familiar to anybody who uses their phone regularly for jamming out. It’s the latest in a string of letdowns that include an orphan U2 album materializing out of nowhere to the killing off of the much-loved iPod.
At first glance, the music app looks completely new. Not new like, “Oh, is that new suit?” but new like, “Did you get brotox?” One word that comes to mind is “oversized,” reminiscent of one of those calculators for the near-sighted, and makes your most embarrassing songs easier for people to see. (I like Taylor Swift, thank you very much!) There’s almost a vintage and parochial feel to it, almost like an old Internet browser. (Or, perhaps, Beat Music.) Cosmetic changes aside, which anybody can make peace with, it’s the missing old features that really make the new Apple Music feel like a work in progress. It doesn't have to be this way!
In the iOS of yore, there was a very convenient feature in music that would allow you to control the immediate future of your music: “Add to up next.” You could quickly make a playlist on the fly, a joy for those of us who have short commutes, need a few songs queued up for a shower (if you don’t have a stereo in your bathroom, I suggest you get one), or are looking for something upbeat while on a run. You could then easily drag and rearrange the songs in case you wanted to change the order. Coupled with this feature was your history, which was helpful in case you wanted to quickly go back to a song you’ve recently listened to. This was particularly useful because smart playlists wouldn’t update in real time on your phone. The “Recently played” list for example, would have you click one song, only to play another. History saved that.
Both of these options are gone and replaced with “play next” or “play later,“ which either lets you play a song immediately after what you’re listening to, or at the end of your current queue. This is activated, confoundingly, using 3D Touch. (Meaning, you gotta hold down over a track.) All of these shortcomings boil down to less control. Less intuitive(ness). Less Apple.
The Fix: One option is to make a temporary playlist that acts as a staging area for the tracks you wanna hear. It's not the most elegant solution, but it works.
Shuffle mode, while still around, is somewhat more difficult to find. A lot of iOS 10 reviews have zeroed in on this, as it is essentially disappeared in the “now playing” mode. It’s a somewhat simple fix though, and one that has begrudgingly already become second nature to heavy users like myself, but it requires an extra motion.
The Fix: Once a song is playing, swipe up from the bottom. Hit the shuffle.
One thing which Apple is historically good at with music libraries is organization. But, that’s all out the window now. As always, you’re given the option to cruise through your library sorted by artist, album, or song. However, the default is to have all of these categories now sorted by Artist. This objectively makes zero sense. If one goes to a menu of songs, you’d expect to see “Uptown Girl” just below “Uptown Funk” but, no. Anything Billy Joel will now be slightly above anything by Bruno Mars.
The Fix: From your Library screen, hit the Edit button and add Songs into the mix.
Also gone from sight in the app are the familiar star ratings and the Genius functionality. The stars have been replaced by the option to “like” or “dislike” a song. Call me crazy, but I would not spend $1.29 on a song I dislike, but would perhaps consider dropping such cash on something I’d throw three stars. What even happens to disliked songs? Do they sit there like your ex’s contact info, just wasting away? I rarely used the Genius feature, but it had come in handy on the occasion for creating instant playlists with a good vibe. As far as I can tell this still exists within the desktop app, so it isn’t gone entirely, but, who happens to have a laptop on them when they need to save a party from bad music on the fly?
The Fix: THERE IS NO FIX. BRING BACK STARS!
A quick scan of user feedback out there suggests that many aren’t too pleased with the new version of the music app, so we can only hope the powers that be at Apple bring back the conveniences they’re known for. Or, if they really wanna score some points, maybe they’ll even bring back the iPod.