Prior to the launch of Apple Music, I had a Spotify Premium subscription. Although I listened to my own music a good 80% of the time, I considered the equivalent of one album purchase a month to be decent value to have access to other music when I felt like something new.
But while Spotify didn’t much change the way I listened to music, Apple Music really has. Its ‘For You’ recommendations – especially the playlists – are so good that the 20% streaming I used to do has now grown to 50%. As I mentioned in my Apple Music Diary series, the service has introduced me to more new artists I really like than Spotify did in all the years I used it – despite my initial concerns that it wouldn’t do so.
But the very effectiveness of Apple Music in introducing me to so much new music has thrown up a couple of problems …
The first is that I miss having on-demand access to those playlists when I don’t have a data connection. I spent Christmas in Hong Kong, which involved two 11-hour flights. I’m not much of a TV or movie guy, so I listen to a lot of music when travelling. I’d saved a few For You playlists to my iPhone, but of course couldn’t access new ones.
I’d love it if Apple Music auto-downloaded the most recent For You playlists whenever I’m on Wi-Fi so that they were available to me when I don’t have access to mobile data.
It could work just like subscribed podcasts, where we specify the number of playlists to keep. Apple’s Podcast app, for example, lets us choose between the 2, 3, 5 and 10 most recent. In that way, we have access to them when we need them without taking up lots of storage. And by limiting the downloading to when we’re on Wi-Fi, it wouldn’t use any mobile data.
The other issue I really wish Apple would solve once and for all is lyrics. There have been a wide range of third-party solutions for adding lyrics to music on Apple devices, both for iTunes on the Mac and the Music player on the iPhone. MusixMatch, for example, displays lyrics in the Notification Center.
But third-party apps suffer from three issues. First, they don’t offer lyrics for every track. It depends on whether Apple includes the data in the track, or whether they can be matched from independent sources. Second, they sometimes have a clunky UI – like having to view the Notification Center rather than staying in the Music app. Third, it’s not unusual for an iTunes update to break a lyrics plugin on the Mac. I’ve had several over the years that worked well for a time but stopped working temporarily or permanently following a new version of iTunes.
Apple says that it cares deeply about music, and to me lyrics are fundamental to much of my favorite music. Apple is in the perfect position to solve the problem once and for all: agree with the labels that they provide embedded lyrics, and make lyric display a standard feature in both Music and iTunes.
Would either feature be of interest to you? Please let us know by taking our poll. If you have Apple Music feature requests of your own, please share them in the comments.