Collaborative Apple Music Playlists Return in iOS 17.3 With a Fun Twist

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Although Apple has now officially conceded that it won’t be meeting its end-of-the-year deadline to deliver Apple Music Collaborative Playlists in iOS 17, the company hasn’t abandoned hope. In fact, there’s a good chance it’s coming in iOS 17.3, which is expected to land on people’s iPhones in the first few weeks of 2024.

Collaborative Playlists is a new feature that will allow you to share your favorite tunes in Apple Music with your friends and family and let them contribute to the mix. Apple first announced the feature when it unveiled iOS 17 at its June Worldwide Developers Conference but made it clear that it wouldn’t arrive until sometime after the initial iOS 17.0 release.

In late October, it looks like that would happen in iOS 17.2. But sadly, after teasing us with the feature in the first few iOS 17.2 betas, Apple unceremoniously pulled it in beta 4, leaving it unsurprisingly absent from the final iOS 17.2 public release that arrived earlier this week.

While Apple has been silent on its reasoning, code found in iOS 17.2 suggested Apple was working on ways to avoid the feature being abused by spammers by looking at ways to limit how many people a collaborative playlist can be shared with — or at least how many of those can be “pending requests” where a playlist has been shared but not accepted by the invitee.

Nevertheless, while Collaborative Playlists are nowhere to be found in iOS 17.2, Apple wasted no time pushing out an iOS 17.3 beta, which arrived less than 24 hours later to bring the feature back for testing. The first developer beta of iOS 17.3 arrived on Tuesday, and a public beta of the same version is now available, which means anyone who wants to dive in can check out Collaborative Playlists.

Naturally, you’ll only be able to collaborate with folks who are also running iOS 17.3 on their iPhones, but it appears that Apple is reintroducing the feature to the latest betas and adding at least one fun new trick.

Now, in addition to sharing an editable playlist with friends and family, everyone who participates can now use emoji reactions to add their feedback on the selections.

Once you’ve shared a playlist for collaboration — even if nobody else has joined yet — you’ll see a new reaction button to the left of the favorite star in the “Now Playing” screen. Tapping on this will bring up an appropriate assortment of the usual emojis: thumbs-up, heart, party, fire, thumbs-down, and broken heart.

Selecting an emoji will apply it to the song along with animated feedback for you and anybody else who happens to listen to it; both at the time you apply it and even when you return to it later, you’ll see the emojis float up the screen from the reaction icon.

If the standard emojis don’t quite express how you feel about a song, you can also use the plus button to add any other emoji, which will animate in the same way.

Once one or more emojis have been added to a song, tapping the emoji button will also show a list of who has reacted and which emoji each person has added, and even a way to filter by each emoji, similar to how reactions are shown on a Facebook post.

The playlist view will also show the emojis that have been added to each song to the right of that song.

Collaborative Playlists are shared by link rather than user name, which makes it easy to invite others to join and contribute to your Apple Music playlist — you need only send them the link, and you can share it as far and wide as you like. An optional “Approve Collaborators” setting lets you limit access, but if this is switched off, anybody who gets the link can join immediately.

To avoid things getting out of hand, shared invite links will expire in seven days, and you can generate a new one at any time — either to extend the seven-day window or to control access if your link has been overshared. You can also display a QR code in Apple Music that others can scan with their iPhones, which is a great way to share a playlist at a party.

Hopefully, Collaborative Playlists in Apple Music won’t be held back again and will make it into the iOS 17.3 release next year, but in the meantime it’s available for anybody with the iOS 17.3 public beta to play with.

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