Apple Music has received lots of praise, and deservedly so. The subscription service is great for music discovery, and somehow it’s managed to make radio cool again.
But we need to address Apple Music’s shortcomings: it’s super buggy, confusing to use in many cases, and lacking features it needs to seriously match its competition.
I ran into my first glitch with Apple Music when I tried to use its Connect feature, a social network for artists to communicate directly with fans with text updates, audio recordings, and videos.
Videos would not load whether I was on WiFi or cellular. I kept getting error notifications like “operation could not be performed” while trying to navigate through Connect. It got so bad that I ended up disabling Connect altogether, which is a decision I’ve been happy about since.
The fact that Drake, the Canadian rapper Apple brought onstage to talk about how amazing Connect is for artists, hasn’t posted a single thing to Connect yet says a lot about how the social network has done off so far.
Another weird bug involves saving tracks to play offline. I take the subway to work every day, and when I’m underground I don’t have cell service. I have some albums saved in Apple Music to play offline during this time, but I’ve found that the iPhone app has been saving tracks offline on its own without my permission.
But the worst part is that there appears to be no rhyme or reason to which tracks Apple Music downloads to my iPhone after I play them. Some are just available offline while others aren’t. I’m fortunate to have a 64GB iPhone with storage to spare, but I can see this being an issue for those with less room on their devices.
And don’t get me started on the album art situation. iTunes feels the need to assign completely random album covers to songs they do not belong with. I’m sorry, but Drake is not Batman.
Those are the glaringly obvious bugs, but then there’s all the little glitches and inconsistencies I keep noticing that add up to a shaky experience. Sometimes tracks I’ve liked forget they have been hearted, another random track will play on top of another song (Miguel and Tycho are two different artists, Apple), and occasionally I’ll have to re-save an album to my library because it will disappear.
my favourite Apple Music bug is the one where it stops playing music whenever you go from not having a cell signal to having one again
— matt (@mattbuchanan) July 7, 2015
That bug in iTunes where any albums you own w/ songs from one of your Apple Music playlists get tossed to the front of your Recent Music.
— – ̗̀new ̖́- tyler (@TandyQ) July 6, 2015
I’m not alone in experience these issues. An Apple support forum thread with over 50,000 views is filled with complaints of Apple Music wiping iTunes libraries, the swapping out of album art, Apple censoring curse words in purchased song titles, etc.
The reality of Apple Music’s bugginess didn’t fully hit me until I was randomly locked out of my account for about an hour the other day. Nothing would play and Apple kept asking me if I wanted to sign up for a new account.
These kind of issues just don’t exist on Spotify, and Apple Music’s overall reliability needs a lot of improvement before I can trust it with storing all of my albums.
Apple Music bug? I reset my artists, selected only Classic Rock. Went to For You, first 6 lines of artists are Hip Hop. How does that work?
— Stu Duncan (@studuncan) July 7, 2015
First bug found with Apple music – can’t make station from a particular song. Everything stops. My tastes aren’t that obscure… are they?
— Nicola Black (@nicolablack) July 6, 2015
When reached by Business Insider, Apple was not able to comment or give any clarification on bug fixes it may be working on.
Confusing to use
Beyond the bugs, Apple Music can be downright confusing to use at times. I appreciate the simplicity Apple is going for with the overall design aesthetic, but it takes a while to learn how to navigate.
I mainly take issue with how parts of the experience are so buried under hidden menus and finger taps. For instance, did you know you can see set lists from past Beats 1 shows? The Beats 1 page doesn’t make it clear, but if you tap on artwork under featured shows list, you can see each show’s associated tracks.
There’s nothing telling you to tap there or what you will find if you do; you’re just expected to find out on your own. That kind of design is consistent throughout the whole app.
The Mac version of iTunes was laughably bad already, but now that all of the Apple Music features have been packed into it too, it feels too overwhelming to even try and figure out.
Apple Music is supposed to be the every man’s music streaming service. It’s pre-installed on very iPhone, iPad, and Mac, and Apple bought Beats for $US3 billion to make it the best it can be.
Yet it lacks basic, compelling features I’ve come to rely on with Spotify. With Apple Music you can share playlists to friends, but you can’t collaborate on them together. I have about a dozen Spotify playlists that friends can collaborate on, and it would be a shame to lose those by switching.
There’s no built-in mechanism for sharing music to other Apple Music users like Spotify has, so you have to text and tweet links that take you back into the Music app. That feels too cumbersome.
Why can’t I go to an artist’s page from their album artwork on Apple Music? pic.twitter.com/fSt7VLJD4x
— Buster Hein (@bst3r) July 6, 2015
Apple Music needs to be available on more devices before it can be considered ubiquitous. To the company’s credit, the service will support Apple TV, Android, and Sonos soon, but it’s going to be playing catch up for a while to Spotify.
In her review of Apple Music, Jonna Stern at The Wall Street Journal said “it just has too many bugs and frustrations in comparison to Spotify.” Bloomberg called the service “a weird mix of well executed necessities and distracting add-ons.”
I like Apple Music. I think it’s excellent at finding me new music to listen to that I probably wouldn’t have heard elsewhere, and I want it to use it over Spotify because it would mean one less extra app I have to install on my iPhone.
But right now I’m no closer to cancelling my Spotify subscription than I was when Apple Music launched last week.