Apple’s Newly Redesigned Music App is a Band Aid on a Much Larger Problem

Apple announced yesterday at WWDC that they are redesigning the Apple Music app, “from the ground up.” While it is much needed it isn’t enough.

Apple’s Music app was a mess and was in need of a redesign. It looks like they had too many Cooks in the kitchen, pun intended. It feels to me like the creatives were handcuffed by what their executives wanted. They need to make a music app for the music lover and I think this will be a step closer but still many steps away.

The For You section of the newly redesigned Music app presented by Bozoma Saint John

Obvious Changes : The GUI

For an Apple app, and a major one at that, its overall design is surprisingly boring and static and completely ignores horizontal mode.

For anyone with a large library it’s just a hassle. Scrolling through a large library is cumbersome, rating songs isn’t quick (song ratings come in very handy for creating smart playlists), and viewing lyrics seemed like an afterthought.

Horizontal mode is currently completely nonexistent. I would love to be able to be at the gym doing cardio and have the phone in horizontal mode with the album cover and metadata on one half of the screen (artist, song title, year, rating) and the lyrics scrolling on the other. Instead of lyrics maybe load in dynamic artists info or news.

I realize not everyone cares about the year a song was released so you may be thinking, “who cares?” But what if they gave us the ability to customize the info presented in a preferences pane?

Needed Changes : Redesign The Complete Experience

A redesigned app to give us the same features we’ve had, presented in a new way, isn’t nearly far enough. I’m not just talking about lyrics or year released or song rating here. It’s something we don’t have access to on a consumer level.

Their implementation of social with @Connect is mostly useless. They are basically just adding another social platform for artists and fans to have to update and check and it’s poorly done at that. If you follow a handful of artists then maybe it’s somewhat interesting for the soccer mom but for anyone really into music it’s not interesting and not engaging, let alone impossible to manage. Who wants another feed to follow, especially if you follow a hundred artists?

Apple has way too much metadata and user info to not give us something more groundbreaking with social. I’ve had ideas on what this could be for a decade and no one has touched on them yet. It’s surprising really.

Apple could rewrite what social means with regards to music, and entertainment in general, but they are failing. No one needs just another Twitter/Instagram clone.

I won’t go into it all here but here is just a drop in the bucket. Countless musicians these days release multiple albums under different names. Just look at Dan Boeckner for one… Wolf Parade, Divine Fits, Handsome Furs, Operators. How about Trent Reznor or Jack White? It gets exponentially difficult. Keeping track of all of this is nearly impossible for one musician, let alone thousands.

Apple has the means to do this for us and do it in a way that is automated and presented in a fun, informative, and engaging way. There are many other things they could do as well but I’ll leave that for another time.

The problem is that they are playing it too safe. They are following and not inventing, and I don’t just mean in theory. There are many things they could be doing to take the music business from the mostly stagnant last decade to somewhere new. Music discovery has a lot of room to improve well beyond curated playlists, or Genius/Spotify Discover type recommendations.

In the meantime we’ll just have to live with the next iteration of Apple’s Music app and version 3 of whatever they decide to call Ping/Connect next when they could be taking us much further.