Apple Music is in a good place in 2022, but if it wants to keep climbing the ladder and really take on Spotify, there are three major features Apple has to add this year. As it currently stands, the music streaming market looks a lot like it has for the past couple of years. Spotify is still the number one service by a huge margin. Apple Music comes in at a distant second place, with Amazon Music, YouTube Music, and other services not far behind.
Although it still has a ways to go before it sees Spotify-like subscriber numbers, 2021 was a mostly positive year for Apple Music. This past June, Apple released lossless and spatial audio at no additional cost to subscribers — something Spotify still hasn’t added almost a year after announcing plans to do so. Apple also added variety to its pricing options with the $4.99/month Apple Music Voice Plan.
Looking ahead at 2022, it’s unclear what Apple Music will do next. Apple’s confirmed plans to launch a dedicated app for classical music this year (as part of its acquisition of Primephonic), but outside of that, it’s anyone’s best guess. As someone who switched to Apple Music about six months ago, I have few ideas of where it can improve. While there are many things Apple Music does better than its competitors, there are also a few areas that need to get addressed this year.
More Personalized Playlists
Right off the bat, let’s talk about personalized playlists. As it stands today, Apple Music users get five ‘Made for you’ playlists based on their listening — including Friends Mix, Favorites Mix, Get Up Mix, Chill Mix, and New Music Mix. They all work well enough. Each mix is updated once per week, the music selections are usually pretty good, and they’re an easy way to start listening to something you’ll (probably) like. However, there’s much more Apple could be doing on this front.
Just take a look at what Spotify offers. Spotify users get six Daily Mixes, each updated every day and offering a distinct style of music. Those are also supplemented with multiple Genre Mixes, Artist Mixes, Decade Mixes, and more — all of which are based on your listening. By comparison, it makes Apple’s five weekly mixes look embarrassing.
The solution here is pretty simple. If Apple took the Spotify formula of having six personalized playlists, updated them each day, and catered each one to a different style of music, it’d be a massive upgrade over the current implementation. Tidal basically did this in 2018 when it launched My Mixes, and the service is objectively better because of it. This is something Apple should have addressed years ago, but since it hasn’t, it might as well make 2022 the year it finally happens.
Better Integration With Third-Party Services
Apple’s always been a very closed-off company. iMessage is one of the biggest iPhone exclusives, iPhones and Macs work seamlessly with each other, and AirPods only work best when paired with an Apple gadget. This locked-in ecosystem is nothing new from Apple, and it’s not something likely to change any time soon.
But Apple has been much more lenient with its services. Apple TV+ is available on Roku and Google TV, iTunes is available for Windows, and Android users can download an official Apple Music app without a hitch. It’s a side of Apple that’s encouraging to see, but specifically with Apple Music, there’s room to make this even better.
I recently switched my home from Google Assistant speakers to Alexa ones. It’s been going great so far, and I was pleased to see there was an Apple Music skill to bring all of my songs to my new Echo devices. Unfortunately, the integration is really barebones. Alexa can play Apple Music songs just fine, but anything beyond that is basically nonexistent. Apple Music doesn’t support options to like or dislike songs, add titles to a playlist, or see upcoming songs in the Alexa app. There are other things, too. Apple Music can work better with Google Assistant, get Discord integration similar to Spotify, and more. Apple has lots of room to improve these third-party experiences, and it absolutely should use 2022 to do that.
Overhaul Apple Music Replay
Last but certainly not least, we need to talk about how bad Apple Music Replay is. Ever since the first Spotify Wrapped debuted in 2016, the end-of-year recap has gotten better with each release. Spotify Wrapped 2021 was further proof of this. It showed Spotify users how many minutes they spent listening to music in 2021, their favorite albums/artists, top genres, and more. It even added a few interactive elements (such as a quiz about your listening and the option to compare Wrapped results with other users).
Apple did the same thing it does every year with Apple Music Replay. Users got a playlist of their most listened to songs… and that’s about it. Apple Music also created a barebones list of someone’s top 10 albums and artists, but only if they visited a specific page on the Apple Music desktop site. It may seem silly to complain this much about an end-of-year roundup, but the fact that Apple’s been so far behind Spotify for five years — and shows to desire to improve things — is exhausting. Apple has the data and the resources to make an excellent end-of-year recap. Show people a bunch of stats about their yearly listening, put it together in a flashy package, add it to the mobile app, and call it a day. It’s not that big of an ask, and it’d create a lot of missing goodwill between Apple Music and its userbase.
And that’s pretty much it! I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time with Apple Music since I joined in July 2021. The app has a clean interface, spatial audio’s been a game-changer, and there’s a ton of value to be had when bundling Apple Music with an Apple One plan. If Apple can address these three things, it’d be basically perfect in my book. Whether or not this actually happens is another thing, but that’s all up to Apple to decide.
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