Thursday, March 9, 2023

Apple Music Classical Pre-Order

Hartley Charlton:

Apple’s long-awaited dedicated classical music app today appeared on the App Store and is available for pre-order ahead of its launch at the end of March.

Sarah Perez (Hacker News):

The company’s decision to target classical music listeners with a standalone app is a differentiator for its Apple Music subscription service — though it’s one that’s quite different from the features rival Spotify announced this week, which had involved tech-forward features like AI and video-based discovery feeds.

Instead, Apple Music Classical will present a simple interface for engaging with classical works. Users will be able to search by composer, work, conductor or even catalog number, to locate recordings. These can be streamed in high-quality audio of up to 192 kHz/24-bit Hi-Res Lossless. And thousands of recordings will be available in Apple’s immersive spatial audio, as well.

There’s no additional charge for Apple Music Classical as it’s being shipped as part of the Apple Music subscription. The app will be available to subscribers across plans, including the Individual ($10.99/mo), Student ($5.99/mo), Family ($16.99/mo) plans, and in the Apple One bundles.

Hartley Charlton:

Apple says that it has been working with classical music artists and institutions to offer exclusive content and recordings in Apple Music Classical, including Hi-Res Losless and Spatial Audio tracks.

The app’s design is based on Apple Music, but with a simplified UI that heavily uses Apple’s New York font instead of SF Pro.


There is no version of Apple Music Classical for iPadOS, making it an iPhone-only app.

An Android version of Apple Music Classical is in the works and set to arrive “soon,” according to Apple.

Steven Woolgar:

It says there will not be an iPad app, but there will be an Android app. It doesn’t say anything about macOS.

I don’t know what to think that Apple has prioritized Android over iPad. As an iPad user and music lover I am not too impressed.

They’ve got Catalyst and SwiftUI, but the second platform to be supported will be Android? And what about HomePod?

Jason Snell:

As I learned years ago from Macworld contributor Kirk McElhearn, classical music fans have some very specific needs that aren’t well served by the pop-music-oriented design of Apple Music (and all the way back to iTunes, for that matter). Hence the need for a dedicated app. (It’s unclear to me if a Mac app is in the works, however.)

Dave B.:

On the one hand, I’m glad it’s finally coming.

On the other hand, if you look at the screenshots on the App Store, it looks like it has the exact same design as the normal Apple Music app.

I had been hoping the long delay to Apple Music Classical was the result of Apple building a newly designed Classical app, and then applying those updated designs to the regular Music app so that they could both be released together with a new, improved design.

By the looks of it, that’s not the case. If Apple Music Classical looks exactly like the current Apple Music app, that means it’s less likely that Apple is actually redesigning the current app. That’s immensely disappointing to me.

And I guess the classical-focused UI improvements won’t be available for already purchased music, only via subscription.


Update (2023-03-10): Rui Carmo:

Sometimes I wonder if Apple really has a services strategy instead of a bunch of tiny, disjointed little teams that appear to operate in a completely isolated way without thinking about how and end customer would use all their services across all of their devices.

7 Comments RSS · Twitter · Mastodon

"They’ve got Catalyst and SwiftUI"

Sure, all the apps they shipped on macOS with these APIs are so good, it makes no sense… Oh wait.

Like @Dave B, I'm disappointed that this doesn't hint at a future redesigned Music app. I strongly dislike the overall organization of the current, which the classical version emulates: promotional/discovery content is front and center. Your own library is shoved off to the side. This is the inverse of how I think about my music.

All tides eventually turn, and I look forward to some future era when apps are redesigned to prioritize your own content (not to mention the customizability that we had in the original iPhone music app). Until then, I'm grateful for the healthy ecosystem of 3rd party music apps on iOS.

Who uses an iPhone to browse or stream classical music? Not me (or any classial fans that I know). An iPhone is too small a screen to browse the metadata of classical performances. Then, if I'm going to use a headphone to listen (I prefer not) it will certainly not be from an iPhone. I suppose Apple looked at the listening habits of its audience for classical music subscriptions? If so, I'd be astonished that this was their conclusion about user needs/wishes. Or maybe (more likely?) that was not a big factor in their design decision. BTW, Primephonic had an excellent Mac App.

@Nigel Is there a particular third-party app that you like?

I wish they'd make a legacy app for purchased and ripped music, let's call it iTunes, for those who do not have an Apple Music subscription to use.
UX of Music apps on Mac and iOS has degraded so much that it's hard to use with existing libraries.

The dedicated Classical Music app seems like a step in the right direction, but for some reason, I am afraid that it would only mean even worse UX for users with existing libraries.

@Michael I'm a big fan of Marvis Pro. It's deeply customizable while being nicely designed. To avoid writing an entire essay in these comments, I'll list just one of the things I love: you can create a customized "home" section based on Marvis's version of smart playlists. For me, this means I no longer constantly navigate various hierarchies in to get to a playlist or album or what have you, because I've put the most commonly accessed parts of my music library on my home for quick access. And it works well regardless if you stream from Apple Music or use a local library.

If Marvis doesn't suit you, there are a lot of other good options. Marc Barrowclift has been doing an impressive annual review of the whole field:

My guess: there won't be a Mac or iPad app, because it's not necessary. It'll just be a fourth view, beneath "Listen Now", "Browse", and "Radio".

But they can't do that on iPhone, since there's no space for an extra button in the bottom toolbar. Apple never puts more than 5 buttons there. The Music app is already maxed out.

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