One major opportunity for Apple Music is the ability to see previously recommended playlists. The feature is so obvious that you would actually think it already exists, only to go reference an Apple Music playlist that has been updated and overwritten.
That’s what happened to me today. My New Music Mix last week was so good that I played it on repeat for days from my Apple Watch at the gym and my HomePod around the house, but I never got around to saving any of the songs to my library. Today my New Music Mix updated and there’s no historical reference to the songs recommended last week.
The solution to this could be that as long as you’re an Apple Music subscriber, the service lets you historically see what playlists have been recommended to you. Each mix could be presented in a timeline view with the most recently updated playlist on top and the rest below by date. New Music Mix: April 27, New Music Mix: April 20, New Music Mix: April 13, and so on.
The workaround is to reference your music playback history in iTunes — if you ever played it from a Mac or PC — but even that only tracks so many previously played songs.
Instead of the current “right way” to use Apple Music playlists is to individually add tracks to your library or manually save a whole playlist by creating a new playlist — and there’s no way to do the latter from HomePod.
If you ask Siri to “add this playlist to my library” when playing an Apple Music playlist, Siri will tell you that there is no playlist with that name because it thinks you literally want to add a playlist called “this” to your library.
My solution for now is going to be to set up a weekly repeating task in my task manager app Things on the day before each Apple Music mix updates: New Music Mix updates on Fridays, Chill Mix updates on Saturdays, and Favorites Mix updates on Mondays.
I’ve also created a playlist folder in iTunes on the Mac (these sync to iOS but can’t be created there) where I will organize the Apple Music mixes by title and date, then I can reference these songs again in the future.
For other playlists that are not algorithmically created recommendations, like Workout mixes for example, these update regularly but you can’t see what was featured three months ago.
The problem with this approach is manually “liking” and adding songs to your library is a lot of work for an activity that should be mostly passive: listening to music.
Instead, the recommendation experience requires a lot of hands-on activity, some of which is easier on a Mac or PC than on a HomePod or iPhone where your music a lot of listening is likely happening.
I hope Apple is working on something like this for iOS 12. Apple is getting much better at music recommendations with these algorithm-based playlists, but having an ephemeral playlist that requires manually adding songs to your library and not historical references to past recommendations devalues Apple Music. The fix here is simple: show us what you recommended for the duration of our membership.