Sunday, January 3, 2016 [Tweets] [Favorites]

Shuffle in iOS 9.2’s Music App

John Gordon:

With Music.app in OS 9.x Apple effectively made “shuffle” the default way to play an album or playlist. That’s not necessarily bad, but where they went off the rails was they gave one icon two very different behaviors.

[…]

So on this screen, to recap, there are 3 functions, play non-shuffle, play-shuffle, and pause. The functions are distributed between two controls, one a toggle and the other an action button, and the action button uses the same icon as a toggle control that appears on another screen.

More generally, the new Music app is a regression for anyone not using Apple Music. There’s too much going on, too many indicators and controls that I don’t need to see. The font is too small, yet text is also too often truncated. All the music that I listen to is stored on the iPhone, and it wastes a line at the top of the screen to constantly tell me this. Then it shows barely recognizable iPhone-checkmark icons on each song, not lined up. The Albums and Artists tabs at the bottom are gone, replaced by Radio and Connect, which I never use.

Update (2018-03-27): Wil Shipley:

“Team, should we just make the experience worse and worse for customers who’ve bought thousands of dollars worth of music through iTunes to force them to Apple Music?”

“Well, let’s see, we already removed making genius playlists from users’ collections that they blew their cash on, and we made it so links to songs try to open in Apple Music even when they're not subscribed, hmm, what else…”

Update (2018-04-29): Donovan Bond:

I remember when Apple’s objective with music was to make it “just work”.

Now it seems their objective is to make people subscribe.

iTunes sucks. The Music app sucks for anyone who has their own library of music. Airplay is largely broken.

I miss Apple.

10 Comments

I think part of the problem is that Apple's trying to put more of the features of iTunes into the iOS apps. The old apps were simple but were extremely limited. Now Apple's trying to add a lot of functionality including looking up associated Apple Music screens. While I have some complaints about how they've done it on iOS it seems much better done than in OS X honestly. I don't really ultimately disagree with John here. Switching "shuffle" from a toggle to a "button" is confusing. Made worse by the lack of affordances in the iOS7+ design. There's no way to tell by looking what's a toggle, what's a button, what's text or so forth. Once you figure it out there's visual clues - usually the color of text. But no where near enough.

I do agree with John as well that Apple's focus on UI has taken a poor turn. I tend to think it's less the loss of Jobs (who had lots of doozies in his own history including a rotating knob in iTunes for one iteration) than it is the loss of Forstall. Forstall may well have had to go do to conflicts with other VPs. But I also think he gave a certain pragmatic perspective that just isn't getting as emphasized since he left.

FYI it's possible to disable the connect tab and gain back separate artist/playlist tabs. Go to general settings -> restrictions and there's a toggle there.

@Nigel I can remove the Apple Music Connect tab in Restrictions, but it doesn’t bring back the other tabs.

The small text size really comes into play in the car, where the iPhone is at a different distance from my eyes than normal.

I also wish I could get rid of the Recently Added section that’s always at the top.

"More generally, the new Music app is a regression for anyone not using Apple Music ... The Albums and Artists tabs at the bottom are gone, replaced by Radio and Connect, which I never use."

In other words, it's a feature, not a bug.

@Chucky More like a strategy tax?

I've switched over to Ecoute on iOS:

http://www.pixiapps.com/ecouteios/

Since you can't really make a "replacement" music player app for iOS, this is really more of an alternate shell for interacting with the music on your phone. If all of your stuff is local, this isn't bad. I'm very unhappy with the state of music players on both OS X and iOS and it seems like there's not a lot of options out there.

@Fred Thanks. Ecoute is a big improvement over the Music app. I just wish had a control for the font size.

"I also wish I could get rid of the Recently Added section that’s always at the top."

It could also solve the issue that the index on the right is not visible until you have scrolled far enough to hide the "Recently Added" section.

[…] have to wait for Apple to improve the Videos app. After all, we have the App Store. Lots of people don’t like the new Music app, but fortunately there are excellent third-party alternatives such as Ecoute (App […]

[…] I would expect the user experience for downloaded music to get worse, as has already been happening since the introduction of Apple […]

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