Why Apple Music Sucks…For Now.

 
 
 

I was excited to ditch Spotify for Apple Music, primarily for the ease of integrating streamed/saved music from the service with my existing collection, and to better integrate with Siri while driving. (Hey Siri, play “Here Comes Bohannon.”) I updated my iTunes and my phone as soon it became available. Here’s why I think it sucks, or at least has a long way to go if it want’s to dethrone Spotify.

THE QUALITY

All music made available offline is downloaded in 256kb AAC format. There are no options for MP3 or higher/lower bitrates. Can I hear the difference between 256kb AAC and 320kb MP3? Probably not. But I’d still like the option. And why not offer a lossless version with a premium monthly subscription to target Tidal as well? Perhaps in the future.

THE PROCESS

I started immediately trying to duplicate my Spotify downloads and playlists on Apple Music on my iPhone. It took a while to navigate the new labyrinthine menus in the Music app, but after a while I figured out a quick way to add everything:

  • Search Apple Music for an album
  • Click the … next to the album and select “Make Available Offline” (which automatically adds it to “My Music”)
  • Click the … again and select “Add to Playlist” to add it to whichever playlist you want

Here are the problems with this. First, when adding to a playlist, you don’t have the ability to create a new playlist, so you have to cancel the search, go back to My Music, select the Playlists submenu, and create a new playlist there. Then you have to perform the search again to add it to the new playlist.

Second and most annoyingly, if you don’t wait for the full album to download before adding it to your playlist, it only adds whatever songs you have downloaded to the playlist, not completing the addition once the download completes. If you want to add the full album, you have to go in and manually remove the individual tracks and then go back into the album and add it again.

INTEGRATION

OK, so the process of finding and adding music on the iPhone is annoying, I’ll just manage it all on my Macbook in iTunes, right? No way. I tried adding a bunch of albums to My Music on iTunes, waited for them to show up on my iPhone, nothing. Synced my iPhone and playlists, nothing. Downloaded all the albums from the cloud into iTunes, synced again, nothing. Finally I called apple support and after being escalated to a senior support specialist, they were able to confirm that “My Music will not sync across any devices.” What? You have this massive ecosystem built around your music products, and you launch this new service, and it doesn’t work across devices? That seems like a massive oversight on someones part, and I assume the first thing they are working on fixing.

It’s disappointing that this was such a bad experience out of the box, but then I look back at the first iPhone, and remember not being able to copy-paste, and I have faith that these things will be corrected, because Apple doesn’t like having bad products, at least not for TOO long. Right?