New Apple Music Voice Plan | Here’s What You’ll Get (and What You Won’t)
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The biggest thing that we did not see coming at yesterday’s Apple event was the announcement of a new Apple Music Voice plan. The new initiative came right out of the blue during a new music-focused opening act for an event that was otherwise all about the Mac.
Perhaps appropriately, the announcement also featured a rare appearance by the voice of Apple Music, Zane Lowe, who serves as the global creative director for Apple Music and hosts the Apple Music 1 live radio station.
This more affordable $4.99 monthly plan naturally came on the heels of the announcement of brand-new mood and activity playlists that are clearly designed to be called up solely by talking to Siri. It’s this massive new set of playlists that will likely form the core of the Apple Music Voice experience.
Apple Music Voice Plan Siri Commands
You’ll soon be able to get appropriately curated lists of music simply by issuing commands like:
- Hey Siri, play the dinner party playlist.
- Hey Siri, play something chill.
- Hey Siri, play a falling in love playlist.
- Hey Siri, play something for hitting the books.
- Hey Siri, play a toddler party playlist.
- Hey Siri, play a playlist for singing in the shower.
- Hey Siri, play a bottomless brunch playlist.
Those are just the tip of the iceberg, and Apple quickly showed off a huge number of possibilities in the graphics that accompanied Lowe’s announcement.
Of course, these new playlists will be available to all Apple Music subscribers, but they were obviously designed primarily to make the new Apple Music Voice plan a practical reality.
In typical fashion, though, Apple didn’t say much else at the event about what the differences are between the $4.99 Apple Music Voice plan and the $9.99 standard plan, so while the less expensive plan may sound like a better deal, it’s important to understand what you’re getting — and what you’re giving up.
What’s Included in Apple Music Voice?
Right off the bat, it’s important to note that there are no catalogue limitations with Apple Music Voice. You’re getting access to the entire 90 million song Apple Music library, along with more than 30,000 curated playlists. You’ll be able to “request any song, album, playlist, or station simply by asking Siri.”
In other words, you’ll be able to listen to the same music, although you’ll be required to call it up by voice. Apple says in its newsroom announcement that “subscribers will get a customized in-app experience with suggestions based on the listener’s music preferences and a queue of recently played music through Siri.”
Although it’s not clear exactly what this means, it does sound like the Music app on the iPhone, iPad, and Mac will be “dumbed down” a bit on the Apple Music Voice plan, likely to the point of directing the user to make all requests via Siri, rather than the normal search interface.
For example, Apple clearly adds “is available through Siri” when referring to accessing songs. There will also be a dedicated “Just Ask Siri” section where subscribers can learn how to optimize Siri for Apple Music.
It’s also completely ad-free, just like the normal Apple Music plan, and you’ll have full playback controls, including unlimited song-skipping, although Apple says that will also need to be done “through Siri.”
That said, Apple does note that you’ll be able to access your entire library from any device, and even listen to music offline, although again it’s unclear at this point exactly how this will work in the Music app interface. For one thing, we don’t even know if Apple Music Voice will let you create your own playlists, but if so, you’ll likely be required to use Siri to do so.
What You Won’t Get with Apple Music Voice
Although we’ll have to wait and see what the actual user interface will look like for the Apple Music Voice plan, there are a few things that Apple has clearly said won’t be included:
- You won’t get Spatial Audio with Dolby Atmos or Lossless Audio.
- No Music Videos or other video content programming such as music documentaries.
- No Lyrics.
- No support for Apple Music on third-party devices like the Amazon Echo, Samsung smart TV, or your Porsche.
- No support for your own personal iCloud Music Library.
- No social sharing features.
It’s also worth keeping in mind that there’s no family plan for Apple Music Voice — it’s for individual subscribers only. While users in Apple Family Sharing groups can still sign up for Apple Music Voice individually, if more than two people in your family want to use Apple Music, you might as well just spring for the $14.99 Apple Music Family Plan and get the full set of features, or save even more with an Apple One bundle.
When it comes to video content, Apple is making it clear that Apple Music Voice “is an audio-only plan.” This means no music videos, and no other video content programming like Apple Music TV.
The third-party device limitations also make sense when you think about it, as third-party Apple Music devices don’t support Siri. Whether you’ll be able to call up Apple Music on a Siri-enabled thermostat is another question, but we imagine it might be possible since the new Siri HomeKit features are actually backed by a HomePod mini.
When’s Is Apple Music Voice Coming?
For the most part, it looks like the Apple Music Voice plan could still be a great solution for those who just want to listen to music more casually and don’t need their own library or personalized playlists — which could actually be a fairly large group of Apple Music users.
If you’re a student, however, you’re better off going for the Apple Music Student plan, since it’s available for the same price and has all the features of the full Apple Music Individual plan.
Apple hasn’t said when Apple Music Voice will actually launch, beyond the cryptic “later this fall.” At launch, it will also only be available in 17 countries and regions, including Australia, Austria, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Spain, Taiwan, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
The Apple Music Voice plan will be available on all Siri-enabled devices, including the HomePod mini, AirPods, and CarPlay, as well as the iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, Apple TV, and Mac.