I addressed one big issue with Apple Music last week – and was very surprised to see from the poll results just how widespread the issue was. But while discussing that issue, we happened across a Reddit thread that I thought contained a really great idea: give the iOS app Smart Playlist functionality via Siri.

I may complain a lot about the bloated nature of iTunes, a single app that tries to do way too many different things, but I do really like it as a pure music player. One of the features I love is Smart Playlists, which you can use to do all kinds of funky things.

For example, maybe you have some music you really love but haven’t listened to for a while? Create a Smart Playlist where Rating is 5 and Last Played is not in the last year. Been listening to the same stuff too much lately? Create a playlist where Last Played is not in the past month. Feeling nostalgic? A playlist where Year is a particular year …

If you’re a little lazy on rating your music and just want some stuff you know you like, then Plays is greater than 20 (or whatever number works for you) will do the trick. But you may want to exclude tracks you’ve listened to so many times you’re bored by them, so adding a second requirement that Skips is less than 1 or 2 will take care of that.

I could go on, but the tl;dr is that Smart Playlists are a great way to listen to music. Clearly it would be way too fiddly to set up a bunch of rules on an iPhone screen, but that’s a perfect job for Siri – which is exactly what Reddit user Bostonlbi proposed in the thread.

I imagine one day when Siri is much more integrated you’ll be able to say things like “Hey Siri, play some music I listened to when I lived in Oklahoma” or “Hey Siri, play music I listened to in the summer of 2014.” If iOS kept a history of what you listen to and your habits of choosing, skipping and replaying songs, and filter by your historical geolocation (maybe from your photos library) and specify a time range of some kind, you’d be able to make playlists automatically that are reminiscent of the Photos app Movements.

With iTunes, I tend to filter a lot on my own criteria, but with streaming music, smart playlists could give you access to a lot more music. For example, ‘play singer-songwriter tracks from the 90s.’

I also really like the idea of emulating the Moments feature from the Photos app to do things like playing music you listened to in a particular place, or playing music you listen to while driving, or running, or walking. For truly smart playlists, add in a little integration with the Health app:

Play music tracks I listened to while running my fastest ever 5k

Or, conversely, tell it not to play any of the driving tracks playing when you’ve been stopped for speeding … All kinds of fun possibilities there!

Coupling the kind of Smart Playlist functionality that already exists in iTunes to the ease of use of Siri would in itself make the iOS Music app dramatically more powerful. Add in Moments-style auto-intelligence and you’d have something truly special.

And the best part? Doing it all via Siri means you don’t add a single pixel of complexity to the Music UI, delivering the best of both worlds: increased functionality without increased bloat.

Would you like to see Siri-based Smart Playlist functionality on your iPhone? Take our poll, and if you have your own ideas about the type of playlists you’d like to see, please share them in the comments.


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About the Author

Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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