I recently expressed my frustrations with Apple Music and why I didn’t plan to continue using the service. I want to love Apple Music. Siri integration and the ability to have a singular place to listen to all my music, both streamed and purchased, would be a dream come true.
Unfortunately, Apple Music currently has far too many shortcomings and quirks for me to take it seriously. However, with the help of these third-party apps, I’ve found using Apple Music to be far less painful — and, in some cases, even enjoyable.
True playlist collaboration, better video support and much more
I spent some time with SoundShare a while back and it wasn’t until recently that I realized how much it really adds to the Apple Music experience. If you want a social component to your music-listening experience, SoundShare gives you that via collaborative playlists. Start building a playlist and let anyone view it and enjoy it. You can also invite collaborators to your playlists so they can add their own tracks.
SoundShare links in to YouTube for audio, which gives it the added benefit of being able to automatically stream videos. I love this feature for when I want to AirPlay a video to the Apple TV. I don’t even have to search YouTube: I find the track on SoundShare and it automatically pulls in the video so I can AirPlay it. You can also choose an option in settings so it always tried to find a version of the video with lyrics attached, if you prefer that.
I’ve found myself using SoundShare instead of Apple Music for building playlists. Since it uses YouTube, I can collaborate and invite anyone, not just Apple Music users. SoundShare also integrates SoundCloud and iTunes previews, but I don’t find them to be nearly as robust as YouTube search, so I’ve stuck with that option.
An all-around better music player app
One of my biggest peeves with Apple Music, and the Music app in general, is its inability to figure out where I left off in a song and pick up there. Every other podcast app and music streaming app I’ve ever used can do this. But Apple Music either starts the song over from the beginning or starts from the very beginning of my music library — I actually deleted “ABC” by The Jackson 5 because I got so tired of hearing it every time I started my car.
Ecoute is an alternative music player that filters in your entire iTunes library, including iTunes Match and iCloud Music Library content. Unlike many other third-party players, Ecoute supports play counts and last-played dates, which will be synchronized back and forth.
Just like the Music app, you can quickly add tracks to Up Next in Ecoute and easily reorder them. Ecoute also supports 3D Touch actions from the Home screen so you can quickly play all, shuffle play or search your library.
More importantly, Ecoute doesn’t suffer the same playback issues the Music app does. I can get in and out of my car or switch Bluetooth inputs without tracks starting over or my library randomly playing from the beginning.
Simple, distraction-free and reliable playback
Apple’s stock Music app isn’t very kind to one-handed users, especially if you use a Plus model iPhone. We’ve all had times where a playlist or album ends and we quickly want to play something else. If I know exactly what I want to listen to, I may call up Siri. If I don’t, I won’t chance fiddling with the Music app if I need to focus on doing something else and can’t use two hands (like when I’m driving).
Stezza is an awesome alternative that offers an interface that requires as little attention on your part as possible. With large buttons and a bold interface, you can see at a quick glance everything you need. The main buttons for play, pause, skip and shuffle are also within one-handed reach. Like Ecoute, it pulls directly from your iTunes library and also has the ability to pull in iCloud Music.
I find myself using Stezza as my player of choice when at the gym or while driving — anytime I quickly want to tab through songs or just do something simple, like enable shuffle. You can also tap on the Now Playing box and get quick access to playlists, tracks, artists and more. Like Ecoute, Stezza also supports an Up Next playlist.
Stezza is meant to be quick, easy and accessible. If that’s all you’re after, look no further.
Musixmatch Lyrics Finder
Lyrics on demand for millions of songs
I’m still amazed that Apple hasn’t integrated any way to easily and dependably look up lyrics for a song. For this, I heavily rely on Musixmatch Lyrics Finder. It gives you lyrics inside the app, and you can even enable a Notification Center widget that will automatically give you lyrics for whatever song you’re listening to in Apple Music, Spotify or YouTube.
If you hear a song you like and want to remember it for later, you can also use Musixmatch to do this, just like you can with services like Shazam. I’ll admit, I don’t typically use this feature because it’s far easier to just trigger Siri and ask What song is this?, which then saves it to my iCloud account so I can either purchase or add the song to my library later.
However, if lyrics are what you what, Musixmatch does it best.
This post was syndicated via The App Factor.
Apple Frames 2.0: Faster, Lighter, and Featuring Support for iPhone 13, iPad mini, iPad 10.2”, iMac 24”, MacBook Air, and Multiple Languages
Soor, a third-party client for Apple Music created by indie developer Tanmay Sonawane, is based upon a fascinating premise: unlike other standalone music players for iPhone, Soor works with Apple’s native MusicKit API, enabling direct integration with Apple Music; unlike Apple’s Music app though, Soor prioritizes one-handed gestures, user customization, and a single-page design that packs multiple sections into one view. In theory, Soor should be the optimal blend of two different worlds – a third-party music player with its own aesthetic and stylistic choices combined with Apple Music data and the service’s vast streaming catalog. In practice, while Soor has some solid ideas I’d like to see in Apple Music too, and despite its intriguing visual design, the app doesn’t qualify as a complete replacement for the Music app on iPhone.
Two years ago, Apple introduced MusicKit, a developer framework and set of APIs that allowed iOS developers to create apps compatible with Apple Music. From utilities such as Shazam and SongShift to standalone players and fully-featured clients, MusicKit aimed to provide the native alternative to Spotify’s web API that had been missing from the iOS music app ecosystem. As I wrote in my review of iOS 11:
MusicKit enables apps to integrate with Apple Music and get access to artists, albums, songs, playlists, and even activities and curators. The MusicKit API returns JSON results and supports discovery operations such as search, charts, and personalized recommendations. To do this, iOS 11 has a new music permission dialog with a purpose string that explains why an app wants to access your Apple Music library and account.
I expect MusicKit to spark a creative, diverse ecosystem of music utilities – from alternative clients that stream songs saved in your library (if Apple allows them on the App Store) to fitness apps with deeper Apple Music integration. It’ll be interesting to see if MusicKit becomes as popular as the Spotify API – at least on the iOS App Store.
Two years later, it’s fair to say music utilities have benefited from MusicKit’s native integration with Apple Music and the user’s local music library, but alternative clients have fared better on a platform where an Apple Music app is not available – the open web. In the past year alone, thanks to the introduction of MusicKit for the web, we’ve seen the release of several web apps that replicate the Apple Music experience in a browser – often with an attention to detail and polished design that might even pass for an official Apple product. I suppose this is a logical consequence: from a user’s perspective, it makes more sense to gain access to Apple Music on a platform that doesn’t have a dedicated, built-in Music app than to install an alternative Apple Music player on an iPhone, which already has a pre-installed, full-featured app from Apple. But if that’s the case, where does Soor fit in?
A Customizable Home Screen
The main selling point of Soor is its single-page design with sections that can be customized and rearranged by the user. Soor doesn’t have a tab bar, which means that from a single home screen you’ll have access to:
- Your playlists
- Recently played
- Recently added
- Apple Music’s hot tracks
- Top playlists
- New releases
- Top songs
- Apple Music’s For You section
With the exception of For You (more on this below), all these sections can be turned off in the app’s settings and rearranged so that, for instance, your playlists and recently played albums are at the top of the screen, with Apple Music sections following down in the middle. Soor’s key proposition is this drastic departure from the organization of the Music app: rather than splitting the Library and For You into two separate tabs, Soor lets you mix and match both types of content in the same screen, enabling you to choose the order they’re displayed for faster access.
In the several weeks I’ve spent testing Soor on my iPhone, this has turned out to be my favorite aspect of the app. In an old issue of our MacStories Weekly newsletter (#154), Ryan argued in favor of a customizable For You page in the Music app, noting how Apple should consider letting users personalize the order of blocks displayed in what is, for many, the default view of Apple Music. Soor delivers on that idea with the ability to decide which sections you want to see and where they should be placed. In everyday use, the end result is a music app that can be faster to operate than Apple Music because the playlists, albums, or songs you care about are just two taps away. Everyone’s music preferences are different; the flexible, modular approach of Soor is exactly what I’d like to see in the future of Apple Music too.
I should also note how Soor’s design fits the modern iOS ecosystem but does a better job at balancing information density than Apple’s own app. Compare Music’s presentation of the For You page and your playlists to the same screens as viewed in Soor:
Thanks to smaller thumbnails and (scrollable) grids, Soor is able to display more content on screen, thus increasing the speed and comfort of navigation between sections. By contrast, where Apple Music once felt bold and intuitive, it now appears overly sparse and limited. Again, I would love for a future version of Apple Music to let me select the density of content aggregated in the For You page, much like iOS allows me to choose its system-wide font size with a simple slider.
MusicKit and For You
In terms of actually playing music, even though Soor has its own Now Playing screen, under the hood it uses Apple Music’s audio engine and player. This means that when a song is playing in Soor, it’ll also appear as playing in the Music app because Soor is merely a different front-end interface for the same underlying service. Playing a song in Soor will be reflected in Control Center and the Apple Watch as if it were playing in Music; similarly, if you start playing something in Soor then force-quit the app, it’ll continue to play because, behind the scenes, playback is managed by the Music app.
There’s one notable omission (the first in a long list): unlike the Music app, Soor does not support AirPlay 2, so you won’t be able to stream to multiple AirPlay 2 speakers at once or control what’s playing on them on a separate channel from your iPhone’s system audio. According to Sonawane, AirPlay 2 is one of the features he’s planning for future updates to the app, but – considering the app’s price tag – it would have been nice to have it available at launch.
The inclusion of the For You section is one of the perks of MusicKit, and it helps achieve a basic degree of feature parity with the Music app. In Soor, the For You section is comprised of a series of content blocks that are always displayed at the bottom of the home screen and cannot be rearranged or split into smaller, individual chunks. These blocks are:
- Curated playlists (Favorites Mix, Chill Mix, New Music Mix)
- The day’s Playlists and Albums
- Artist spotlight playlists
- New For You
These are the same sections you’d see in the Music app, but they’re available right inside Soor – much like For You content can also be accessed from the Sonos app after you connect an Apple Music account. Notably absent, however, are the Friends Mix and Heavy Rotation playlists, which are exclusive to the Music app. I’m aware of the fact that the Friends mix/feed is not available to the MusicKit API (so there’s nothing Soor can do about it), but I have to wonder why For You can’t be freely rearranged on screen or why it can’t be narrowed down to a subset of playlists or sections.
Other Design Peculiarities
Soor has its fair share of problems, as I’ll detail in the section below, but I ought to mention its several visual treats and other design touches that are worth discussing.
In addition to a standard light theme, Soor supports a true black theme (ideal for OLED displays) and a dark mode based on dark grays and oranges; I like the latter a lot, and I hope Apple has a similar palette in mind for Apple Music in iOS 13.
While Apple’s Music app employs a mix of 3D Touch and buttons to reveal contextual menus for songs, playlists, and other items, Soor eschews 3D Touch altogether and uses a combination of popup menus and drag and drop to let users perform actions and manage their queue. Contextual menus are invoked by tapping an ellipsis button next to songs/albums or the artist name in the Now Playing screen. I like how these menus are not modal on iPhone – they don’t take over the entire screen – but instead feel like contextual menus inspired by macOS. Despite their resemblance to desktop menus, they feel native to iOS: each item in the menu has its own icon, and you can “hover” with your finger over each option to feel a subtle haptic tap and see a highlight around the selected item. As others have shown lately, I’m starting to think that desktop-like contextual menus can indeed be adapted to iOS.
Soor differs from Apple Music in how it implements queue management. Soor’s contextual menus don’t contain any buttons to “play next” or “add to queue”; instead, this is entirely done by dragging songs and placing them in a “drop zone” that features buttons to queue, add songs to playlists, like them, and share them with extensions.1
This interaction is really well done, and it’s now one of the best showcases of drag and drop for iPhone along with Castro.2 When you’re dragging a song and hover over buttons in the drop area, each glyph gets highlighted, plays a haptic tap, and displays a tooltip to indicate it’ll activate if you let go of the song. It’s even more impressive for playlist management in that if you pause with a song over the playlist button, the drop area will expand and reveal an additional tray of playlists that you can scroll while dragging to select a destination playlist.
As I mentioned above, Soor’s adoption of drag and drop is impressive, both visually and technically speaking. After a few weeks spent using the app, however, I’m not convinced it’s necessarily faster than Music’s more simplistic, but effective 3D Touch menu. I use 3D Touch a lot in Apple Music to like songs, jump to albums, or add songs to my queue. The gesture is “sloppy” in that it doesn’t require hitting a tiny button with too much precision, and I’ve grown accustomed to pressing with my thumb, selecting a menu option without lifting my finger, then letting go. In using Soor, I found myself missing Music’s 3D Touch interaction, and I felt like the app’s menus and drag and drop system were slower than Music’s press-to-open system in the end.
I’d also like to highlight Soor’s “pull to reach” functionality, a setting designed to aid one-handed operations by letting you pull down on the screen to select toolbar buttons at the top. Think of it like pull to refresh, only it has to be more “intentional” and you have to wait for a toolbar icon to be selected (it’ll be highlighted and you’ll feel a tap) before you can let go and trigger the button. In Soor, this is presented as an easier way to open settings, activate the search feature, or tweak sorting in playlists because all three of those buttons are placed toward the top of the screen and may therefore be difficult to reach.
I like the sentiment behind pull to reach, which is presented as one of the marquee features of Soor, but in my experience accidental triggers of the pull-down gesture were too frequent to justify leaving the setting enabled. Even with an option to mitigate pull to reach with a 0.5 second delay turned on, I found that I could often trigger search when I was just scrolling in the app without meaning to open search and engage pull to reach. There’s definitely something to the idea behind pull to reach, but the current implementation was too unreliable for me to leave it enabled.
Soor’s Problems and Limitations
I’m going to cut to the chase here: whether by MusicKit limitations or personal decisions of its developer, Soor is affected by a variety of other issues that prevent it from being a full Apple Music client capable of replacing the Music app.
Soor lacks key features that are part of the modern Apple Music experience. Aside from For You and top songs, most of the other views from Apple Music are missing: artist pages lack profile pictures, they don’t separate different types of music releases, nor do they show you artist bios and related artists; there are no music videos either. It’s effectively impossible to browse for new music in Soor: Apple Music has a front page that highlights interviews, new releases, and videos; you can browse by genres, check out radio stations, and see a list of noteworthy ‘coming soon’ releases on the main Browse page; all of this is absent from Soor.
It gets worse though. Soor does not support Beats 1 at all, has no built-in lyrics, does not work with AirPlay 2, and it’s hamstrung by API limitations that, for instance, prevent it from sharing playlist links, seeing what your friends have been listening to, or understanding which tracks in an unreleased album are actually available for streaming or not (if you try to play them, they won’t do anything because they’re not available yet). The developer is upfront about some of these technical limitations in a built-in FAQ section of the app, but it’s hard to tell whether all the other missing features were also due to API restrictions of if they were decisions made during development.
What’s for certain is that Soor is a $10 iPhone app (it doesn’t support the iPad in this first version) that is advertised as having “full Apple Music support” while in reality it’s a music player that integrates with Apple Music but lacks dozens of features that make up the modern Apple Music experience. It’s a subtle difference, but it’s where I draw the line in the comparison between Apple’s Music app and Soor.
All of this begs the question: why should you buy Soor?
It’s undeniable that the app has an attractive UI and is perhaps the best example of MusicKit support in a third-party Apple Music client for iOS. But I don’t think pretty design and solid API adoption are good enough reasons to recommend a $10 app to people nowadays. Instead, I think you should consider Soor if you’re the kind of Apple Music subscriber who doesn’t care for all the other features absent from the app (videos, Beats 1, browsing for new music, artist pages, etc.) and wants to get fast access to playlists in a single-page design. The ability to customize the order of sections and put playlists at the top is the feature that sets Soor apart from the Music app. If you’re the type of person who pays for Apple Music to stream songs but doesn’t care about any of the other modern Apple Music features and just wants to quickly listen to playlists on an iPhone, then I would say Soor is probably for you. Sadly, I have a feeling this is not a huge market, but I could be wrong.
In many ways, Soor reminds me of Ecoute, the music player for iOS that launched well before the days of Apple Music and streaming services. Like Ecoute, Soor brings a different design sensibility to the music player, but it can’t be considered a full replacement for the main service it integrates with due to a host of technical restrictions and opinionated choices. For this reason, Soor is ultimately stuck between its vision and the realities of Apple Music: the app lures you with the promise of a beautiful, comprehensive Apple Music listening experience, but it can’t fulfill that vision just yet. I hope that its developer will be able to iterate on this first version of the app by shipping an iPad version and supporting all the Apple Music features that can be added to the app. But if you’re a heavy Apple Music user, Soor’s approach, despite its beauty and cleverness, is too limited to replace Apple’s Music app today.
Soor is available on the App Store at $9.99.
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7 Alternative Apps to Enhance Your Apple Music Experience on iPhone
Even if you really love Apple Music, you're sure to have a few complaints with the stock Music app on your iPhone. It was designed to help people listen to purchased songs from iTunes, and adding Apple Music on top of that brought its own set of problems.
The Music app can be slow and buggy at times and lacks advanced filtering options for playlists.
If these things worry you, then you’d be glad to know that there are several excellent apps that enhance your Apple Music experience on iPhone. We’ll show you the best of these apps below.
Soor was among the first Apple Music player apps on the App Store, and it holds up well to this day. Soor’s best feature is Magic Mix, which gives you a Siri Shortcuts-like UI to create customized playlists.
You can select songs by genre, downloaded songs from your library, Apple Music’s playlists, and many more sources. You can then quickly create a playlist by combining that selection with filters based on the artist, release date, duration, and so on.
We were able to create a 16-hour playlist in about 10 minutes using Magic Mix, something that would take hours on the stock Music app on iPhone.
Related: How to Set a Sleep Timer in Apple Music
Soor also has a lovely UI with neat features such as pull-down, to shuffle between various menu items at the top of the screen.
Our only major gripe with Soor is that it takes a long time to load Magic Mixes on the home screen. This is because the app needs to scan through all your filters to see if new songs have been added to the mix each time you launch the app.
It would be much nicer to have these lists load faster, but you can work around that by saving Magic Mixes as playlists on Apple Music. That way, the mix is just one tap away, even if it may not update automatically.
Download: Soor for iOS ($6.99)
2. Cs Music Player
If you're unhappy with Apple Music’s algorithms and want a music player that focuses only on your music, then Cs Music Player is a great option for you. It has neat tabs to show songs, albums, playlists, and artists—all from your library.
You can actually use this player without having an Apple Music subscription if you have purchased a lot of songs from iTunes over the years.
The catch is that there’s no way to add new music to Cs Music Player; you’ll have to switch to the Music app to add new music.
This is annoying if you’ve added some songs from an album to your library but not all of them because you end up with many albums that have missing songs and it takes a bit of back-and-forth to make the most of what Cs Music Player offers.
Cs Music Player lets you search for songs within playlists (a feature that’s still somehow missing from the stock Music app), but it’d be even better if you could search within albums too.
Download: Cs Music Player for iOS ($2.99)
3. Marvis Pro
Marvis Pro is a beautifully designed music player for Apple Music. It has an excellent interface, lacking some of the clutter that makes the stock Music app tough to use.
You’ll find that the focus is on your music library by default, and you can configure the app to make it great for music discovery.
The ability to customize the home screen is one of Marvis Pro's best features. You can add sections for Apple Music’s radio stations, songs from your library, or Apple Music playlists.
The player in Marvis Pro is also excellent, with a neat volume bar right above the Home Bar on your iPhone, along with nice options that let you quickly go to the artist’s page, the album, or the song rating.
While we appreciate how configurable Marvis Pro’s playlists are, we couldn’t find an option that let us search for songs within a playlist. That’s one thing we miss the most.
Download: Marvis Pro for iOS ($5.99)
Love listening to entire albums over randomly shuffled playlists? LongPlay is the best Apple Music app for you.
We really love this concept because there are several albums in our library where it’s hard to find even one bad song. Albums like this deserve to be heard in their entirety and LongPlay excels at just that.
When you open the app, you'll see a bunch of album covers to choose from. You can either tap an album to start playing it or you can swipe right to reveal interesting sorting options, such as Addiction, Brightness (of the album cover), Negligence, and so on.
Related: How to Access Your Replay Playlist on Apple Music
You also have a quick toggle to hide all playlists from the app, so you can focus on the album experience entirely.
The app is a bit simplistic in some ways because it lacks a music player, but that’s by design. You can long-press the album art to skip songs or to play or pause, and it also shows some nice stats such as how long you’ve spent listening to any given album.
Download: LongPlay for iOS ($3.99)
Miximum lets you combine your favorite Apple Music playlists to create larger playlists. The stock Music app allows you to queue multiple playlists, but it’d be better to combine them in some cases.
For instance, Best of 70s Rock has four volumes on Apple Music, and we enjoy all four so much that we always end up listening to them back to back. This is where Miximum shines.
It can combine as many of your playlists as you want to create new mixes for you. You can even ask it to exclude or include songs based on play counts, explicit labels, whether you’ve "loved" the song on Apple Music, and many more useful filters.
It’s a simple app that does what it advertises very well.
Download: Miximum for iOS ($1.99)
If you hate creating playlists and would rather have an app do the heavy lifting for you, then you will enjoy using Next. It has a feature called Magic DJ, which creates lovely playlists based on the songs you’ve listened to on Apple Music.
We absolutely loved the Forgotten Songs playlist because it did exactly what it’s supposed to. All of the songs in this playlist were among our favorites and we’d not played any of them recently.
Similarly, Next creates several genre-based playlists such as Rock, Soundtrack, and Alternative. We also noticed a few artist playlists from our favorites such as Toby Fox (of Undertale soundtrack fame).
Related: Spotify vs Apple Music: Which Is the Best Streaming Service?
Next is not the best app if you need to constantly discover new music, but if you have a large library and often find yourself struggling to play your favorites, then this app will do a great job for you.
Download: Next for iOS ($4.99)
Ever wished for detailed stats for Apple Music? PlayTally is the app that will make your wish come true. It shows you useful stats such as time spent listening to music for any given day or range of dates. It also has Apple Watch-style awards for things like playing a certain number of songs or setting daily listening records.
The app has a neat Trending section that highlights your favorite songs and artists as well.
PlayTally is a good example of an app that does a few things very well as opposed to cramming unnecessary features in for no particular reason. The only limitation is that PlayTally can only start tracking your stats from the day you first give the app access to your Apple Music activity.
Download: PlayTally for iOS ($1.99)
Don’t Stop the Music
In spite of all of these amazing apps, there are still some areas where Apple Music’s stock apps shine. Time-synced lyrics is one of those areas. While some of the apps we’ve recommended, such as Soor, let you use Musixmatch to get time-synced lyrics, the experience is better on the stock Apple Music app.
For many people, the stock Music app is still the best one for Apple Music. It may fall short in some areas, but it’s still a well-rounded app for music streaming.
Apple Music boasts a variety of cool features. Here are the best Apple Music features you really need to use on your iPhone.
Read NextAbout The Author
Adam writes primarily for the iOS section at MUO. He has over six years of experience in writing articles around the iOS ecosystem. After work, you'll find him trying to find ways to add more RAM and faster storage to his ancient gaming PC.
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Apple Music subscribers can grant third-party apps access to their account for things like streaming music through Echo devices or creating a year-in-review chart of your most listened-to music.
When you've granted a third-party app or service access to your Apple Music account, it will continue to have access until you turn that access off. If you decide you want to reduce the amount of data flowing out of your account, there are a couple of different areas to edit which apps have access to your Apple Music information.
Now playing:Watch this: 'Alexa, play Apple Music'
In Apple Music
Those using an iOS device will need to open the Apple Music app and select the For You tab, then tap on your profile photo in the top-right corner. Scroll down on the Account page until you find a section labeled Apps With Access. There you'll find a list of apps you've previously granted access to your account, and if you tap on the Edit button you can remove the apps you no longer use.
On Android, open the Apple Music app and select the For You tab. Next, tap on the three-dot menu icon on the top-right corner (just above your profile photo), followed by Settings. If you've granted an app access to your Apple Music account on the Android device, a section of Apps With Access will show up -- swipe across the app name to remove it.
Another place to check which apps have access to your Apple Music account is in your iOS device's Settings. Specifically, open Settings > Privacy > Media & Apple Music.
Slide the switch next to any app or service you'd like to revoke to the off position.
It's not clear what causes an app to show up in the iOS Settings app versus showing up in the Apple Music app. For me, the apps listed in each section were different, so it's a good idea to check both places.
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Apple clarifies you can’t actually set a ‘default’ music service in iOS 14.5
Apple has clarified that the iOS 14.5 beta is not actually allowing users to select a new default music service, as has been reported. Following the beta’s release back in February, a number of beta testers noticed that Siri would now ask which music service they would like to use when they asked Siri to play music. But Apple doesn’t consider this feature the equivalent to “setting a default” — an option it more recently began to allow for email and browser apps.
Instead, the feature is Siri intelligence-based, meaning it can improve and even change over time as Siri learns to better understand your listening habits.
For example, if you tell Siri to play a song, album or artist, it may ask you which service you want to use to listen to this sort of content. However, your response to Siri is not making that particular service your “default,” Apple says. In fact, Siri may ask you again at some point — a request that could confuse users if they thought their preferences had already been set.
Image Credits: iOS 14.5 screenshot
Apple also points out there’s no specific setting in iOS where users can configure a “default” music service, the way there is with email and browser apps. While many earlier reports did note this difference, they still referred to the feature as “setting a default,” which is technically incorrect.
More broadly, the feature is an attempt to help Siri to learn the listening apps you want to use for different types of audio content — not just music. Perhaps you want to use Spotify to listen to music, but prefer to keep up with your podcasts in Apple Podcasts or some other third-party podcasts app. And you may want to listen to audiobooks in yet another app.
When Siri asks you which service you want to use for these sorts of audio requests, it will present a list of the audio apps you have installed for you to choose from.
Image Credits: iOS 14.5 screenshot
In addition to Siri’s understanding of your habits — which are based on your responses and choices — app developers can optionally use APIs to provide Siri with access to more intelligence about what people listen to in their app and why. This could allow Siri to fulfill users’ requests with more accuracy. And all this processing takes place on the device.
The audio choice feature, of course, doesn’t prevent users from requesting a particular service by name, even if it’s not their usual preference.
For instance, you can still say something like “play smooth jazz radio on Pandora” to launch that app instead. However, if you continued to request Pandora by name for music requests — even though you had initially specified Apple Music or Spotify or some other service when Siri had first prompted you — then the next time you asked Siri to play music without specifying a service, the assistant may ask you again to choose a service.
Image Credits: iOS 14.5 screenshot
Although this may seem like a minor clarification, it has a greater importance given the increased regulatory scrutiny Apple is under these days over how its App Store and app ecosystem work. Spotify, in particular, has alleged that Apple is behaving in anti-competitive ways — for instance by requiring a commission on Spotify’s in-app purchases even though Apple runs a rival music service that Spotify claims has first-party advantages.
The audio choice feature firstappearedin iOS 14.5 beta 1, but had been pulled in beta 2. It has since returned with the release of beta 3, which again drew attention and headlines — as well as Apple’s response.
Although it’s not technically allowing you to set a “default,” the Siri-powered feature could eventually feel like one for users with consistent listening behavior. The iPhone will simply become smarter about how to play what you want to hear, without necessarily forcing you to use Apple’s own apps if you don’t want to.
Early Stage is the premier “how-to” event for startup entrepreneurs and investors. You’ll hear firsthand how some of the most successful founders and VCs build their businesses, raise money and manage their portfolios. We’ll cover every aspect of company building: Fundraising, recruiting, sales, product-market fit, PR, marketing and brand building. Each session also has audience participation built-in — there’s ample time included for audience questions and discussion.
Although iOS comes with a native Apple Music application, developers have been using the MusicKit API to create new experiences for those who subscribe to Apple’s streaming service. If you’re an Apple Music subscriber and want to find out how to better enjoy your music library with unique features, I’ve selected some of the best iOS apps with Apple Music integration.
Next was the first app I reviewed here on 9to5Mac. Instead of working as an alternative player to Apple Music, the app brings features that will help you rediscover your current music library. Next uses algorithms to generate smart playlists and also something called Magic DJs — which contains a mix of songs from your favorite artists and genres.
Although it’s always a good thing to discover new songs, sometimes we have great songs in our library that end up being forgotten after some time. That’s why one of my favorite features of Next is the Forgotten Songs playlist, which does exactly what the name suggests. It brings together all your favorite songs from the past in one place.
You will also find other smart playlists with the most played songs from specific artists and genres, not to mention the playlist with songs you added to your library but never played them. Playlists are automatically generated based on your Apple Music data and updated each time you open the app.
Next is available on the App Store for $4.99 as a one-time purchase.
Maybe you’re someone who is subscribed to Apple Music but doesn’t like the official Music app. The Marvis app is a great alternative to the official Apple Music app as it brings all the features you expect to let you explore your music library by albums, playlists, genres, and more.
The home screen of the app can be customized with just the sections you need and the way you want. For instance, you can choose from Recently Played songs, Most Played songs, Loved songs, Top Charts, New Releases, Radio Stations, and more to make your Home experience unique within the app.
Another interesting feature of the Marvis app is a side menu that can be accessed with gestures, which is great for when you have to use the phone with just one hand. You will also find a great and intuitive interface that works both in portrait and landscape mode.
Marvis is available on the App Store for $5.99 as a one-time purchase — and it offers an additional integration with Last.fm that can be unlocked with a $3.99 in-app purchase.
Just like Marvis, Soor is another alternative to the official Apple Music app for iOS — and it also brings cool features for users who are not satisfied with the default iPhone Music app. Soor’s interface is highly customizable with options to change the Home sections, set a light or dark theme, rearrange the playlists, and more.
In addition to your local music library sections such as albums and playlists, you can also add For You, New Songs, Hot Tracks, and other sections directly from Apple Music. With a feature called Magic Mix, you can create Genius-like playlists with filters for artists, albums, genres, composer, play count, and others.
The app also comes with multiple widgets for the iOS home screen, which is great for customizing your iPhone while also making it easier to access your favorite songs. This includes Now Playing, Magic Mix, and Music Collection widgets. It even has Cover Flow.
Soor is available on the App Store for $4.99 as a one-time purchase. Don’t forget to read the full Soor review here on 9to5Mac.
Apple Music doesn’t provide a way to follow your favorite artists in order to track their latest and upcoming albums and songs, but MusicHarbor does just that. Instead of offering suggestions or working as an alternative player to Apple Music, MusicHarbor is built for users who know exactly who they want to follow.
You just open the app, search for artists and start following them — and MusicHarbor does the rest. The app brings a list of all albums released by each artist, and it also shows any upcoming content such as singles and videoclips. You can also enable push notifications to be notified whenever one of the artists you follow releases a new song.
Furthermore, MusicHarbor has a button that redirects you to a web page with the latest news about the artist and a dedicated tab to show any scheduled concerts. There are also widgets, iCloud data sync, and theme options available for users.
You can try MusicHarbor for free on the App Store, but some features require in-app purchases to be unlocked.
Longplay is also an interesting app that was introduced this year to let users rediscover their music library. Unlike all the other apps on this list, Longplay is focused on exploring entire albums and playlists that you have — excluding those that you’ve added only some of its songs to the Apple Music library.
Once you open the app, it shows only the artwork from your albums and playlists. You can rearrange the main app view by selecting only albums, playlists, or using one of the smart “Sort by” options. There are no extra options or anything that makes you think about where to start. All you need to do is tap into an album or playlist and start listening to it.
By long pressing the albums, Longplay offers options to play it in shuffle mode or to use AirPlay. It’s a fun app and Apple Music users should give it a try.
Longplay is available on the App Store for $2.99 as a one-time purchase.
With these apps, you can definitely have a whole new experience with Apple Music. You can replace the official Music app or rediscover songs you don’t even remember right now.
It’s worth mentioning that although these apps work best with an Apple Music subscription, they also work with songs purchased from the iTunes Store or synchronized from a computer to the Music app.
What do you think of this list? Have you tried any of these apps? Are there any apps that you also like that I haven’t mentioned? Let me know in the comments below.
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Soor is a beautiful, premium music player for your iPhone.
- First feature rich 3rd party Apple Music app.
- Apple curated content personalised to your listening taste.
- Play, search, like, share and add songs from across the entire Apple Music catalogue.
- Intuitive, fully gesture driven user interface.
- Light, Dark and Black themes.
- Musixmatch integration.
- Last.fm auto-scrobbling.
- Magic Mix.
- Release Alerts.
- Music app is required to use Soor.
- App only works with Apple Music or songs you uploaded to Music.app. No other music service is supported.
In case you're wondering what Soor means, pronounced Sur (Soar), it's Hindi for melody/note.
For F.A.Q. and limitations visit: soor.app/faq
If you have any doubts please email: [email protected]
*Soor is a 3rd party Music player. Apple, the Apple logo, Apple Music, iPhone are trademarks of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries and regions.
Album artworks used in screenshots above are not actual artwork image for the albums due to licensing concerns. Actual artworks in app will be shown correctly.
- Fixed layout issues with some devices.
- Added empty state error when Charts (iTunes RSS) returns empty results.
Work on the iPad version is in progress. Soor is being developed by just a 1 person team, a 5 star review goes a long way in supporting indie developers. If you like the app please leave a nice rating.
Ratings and Reviews
Future of the Music App
This is what I wish the stock Music App was the whole time. Features like changing whether albums sort by artist or album title are basic and part of any music program on a computer like iTunes, but they’ve been missing from phone music apps the whole time. There are a few clear missing features such as not being able to download music, but I understand these are API issues and that’s in Apple’s hands to change. I do love the gesture controls, but they will take some getting used to. I strongly hesitated to pay $10 for an app that is just an extension of the stock Music App that I already use, but this is the first of its kind to be a 3rd party app that works with Apple Music like this, so I chose to support the developer to encourage more apps to develop like this or to help the developer keep making this one better. The price is the only reason I rate this app with 4 stars. If it were $5 or less, I would say it’s worth 5 stars. I feel like the ~$4.99-$5 price range would just make the app more accessible and encourage more people to purchase it. If it changed to $5 after I’ve already paid $10, I wouldn’t even be mad though because hopefully more people would get it and support the project.
Yes.... but also no, for the moment at least
honestly don't believe the app is with the five dollar price at the current state of it, at least at the time of writing this. the app is well at doing some basic functions, like if you wanna just listen through an album, it'll absolutely get the job done. the library transfer from Apple music to the app is smooth and effortless. the app also improves upon some things from basic apple music, such as noticing when you try to add a song to a playlist that already exists within the playlist, which personally I found to be really nice. however, the app also lacks to do a lot of basic things at the moment. attempting to shuffle, whether from the get-go by clicking the shuffle icon of the whole album/playlist/whatever, or from trying to shuffle from the player after a song is already playing. you can't remove songs from the queue which is stupid- unless you can add I apparently can't find it, in which case is also stupid because it should be an easily found feature. aside from all that, you can't interact with the -small but very much still existent- social part of apple music, which might just be because this is a third party app in itself and can't do that cause of legalities and whatnot, but I figure that's a worthwhile heads up. honestly I got the whole app to bed able to do the dark mode feature, which is absolutely dope. I can tell that this app has a lot of potential but first the moment it's not with the price in my opinion.
Good looking but lacking
I really love having a player that uses Apple Music that has a dark mode but for $10, I was expecting something with a little more polish and reliability. I have bought other apps from this maker so I know he has the ability but this app was obviously rushed. I've had multiple instances of the app pausing songs repeatedly. This is often followed by a full crash of the app. Rebooting the app does not fix it but hard rebooting the phone seems to for a while. Playing songs randomly from the all songs tab does not work like every other music player I've ever used. It makes a short playlist of a selection of songs that eventually start repeating instead of just playing all of the songs at random. If you want to start your list from a specific song and hit the shuffle button in the player screen after starting that song, it only shuffles songs that begin with the same letter. Its frustrating because the app is truly beautiful but when a player is missing such basic functionality, is obviously only skin deep. He does seem to update his other apps pretty regularly so I'm hoping to see and update that addresses these issues but the last update for this app was ten days ago and didn't really seem to do anything. At the price, this is definitely in the premium range. It should be better.
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- Tanmay Sonawane
- 78.1 MB
- Requires iOS 11.0 or later.
- iPod touch
- Requires iOS 11.0 or later.
- Requires macOS 11.0 or later and a Mac with Apple M1 chip.
English, Arabic, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Norwegian Bokmål, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Simplified Chinese, Spanish, Traditional Chinese, Ukrainian, Vietnamese
- Age Rating
- 12+ Infrequent/Mild Sexual Content and NudityInfrequent/Mild Alcohol, Tobacco, or Drug Use or ReferencesInfrequent/Mild Mature/Suggestive ThemesInfrequent/Mild Profanity or Crude Humor
- © Tanmay Sonawane
With Family Sharing set up, up to six family members can use this app.
Get things done within this app using just your voice.