How to Circumvent Apple Music UX Nightmares

TL;DR: use Siri.

A lot has been written about UX issues with Apple Music. Sadly, this has become par for the course.

It’s not an issue of disliking Apple – it’s an issue of disliking how Apple has seemingly thrown the quality control baby overboard.

And to discuss major UX oversights with people who simply don’t see the difference between 15fps and 60fps is like trying to explain the difference between “there” and “they’re” to a toddler.

While I’ve subscribed to a variety of music subscription services over the years (darn near every one of ’em since they first became available), I’ve never really been one to build playlists or any other semblance of organization. Even being a light user, I have been dumbfounded with just how much of a hack job Apple Music seems to be at this time.

Does Apple Music work? Yes. Does it work well enough? Yes. Does this mean Apple did an amazing job with it? No.

I’m using Apple Music, and plan on using Apple Music indefinitely – but I have not bothered to launch the app directly since I tried it for the first time.

My primary way of circumventing the dead ends and confusing experience is to use Apple Music by way of Siri (which, by the way, I’ve never truly been impressed with). “Play” is a powerful command, and can usually get me what I want at a moment’s notice without having to trip through a mess of overkill in the Music app directly.

Sometimes, I feel like I’m the only one who sees that Apple’s cracks are getting wider and wider with every software release that makes a mediocre experience even worse. But I’m not the only one.

Apple can do better – if they understand that they haven’t been doing better. Releasing a sloppy experience is worse than not releasing an experience at all. I still can’t explain why iOS 7 was one step forward and two steps back – but that, to me, seems to be Apple’s modus operandi for every product revision.

Apple Watch Review

As always, my patrons got the inside scoop early (plus other intelligence).

7 Reasons I Like the Apple Watch

  • Elegant design – software & hardware
  • Works well with all my other Apple products
  • I no longer need to inconvenience myself to pull out a phone
  • Battery lasts all day – and then some
  • Appreciate being able to collect data on myself
  • Often catch notifications I otherwise would’ve missed
  • UX is very intuitive, easy to use.

7 Reasons I Don’t Like the Apple Watch

  • Severe lack of usable third-party apps
  • Notifications are often incomplete, pushing you to iPhone
  • Seems to frequently lose my voice messages / replies to others
  • The extreme lack of diversity in Sport bands
  • Quite slow by today’s tech standards
  • Several functions are redundant or gimmicky
  • Pricey for a souped-up fitness tracker

Who is this for?

  • Someone who wears a watch daily
  • Someone who loves tracking data
  • Someone who loves checking their wrist obsessively
  • Someone who has money to burn (read: an early adopter)

Who is this not for?

  • Someone who doesn’t have an iPhone
  • Someone who doesn’t care about fitness
  • Someone who gets wet frequently
  • Someone who is waiting for a perfect product

Old iPhones Die Hard

If Apple makes a substantial amount of revenue from selling new hardware, why support a legacy iPhone 4s with iOS 9? This was a question inspired by last Friday’s AMA thread.

iPhone 4s is a phone that’s four years old, and it’s about to be updated to the latest OS – albeit, with performance-minded restrictions.

Still, for a company to provide OS-level updates to hardware that would have been considered “vintage” last year is more than impressive. That’s rare.

And if you don’t think there are people out there who still use iPhone 4s models… you don’t know my parents. Every year, they tell me that they’re thinking about upgrading to the latest iPhone. They’ve been telling me this for four years and it’s (obviously) yet to happen.

I’m not pushing them to the latest hardware because they don’t need to be on the latest hardware if they have the latest software. Yes, there’s a lot more a device can do if it has the latest OS (security issues notwithstanding) – and, yes, newer devices would certainly be substantially faster than what they’re currently on.

Or would they?

Yes, by the numbers, newer devices with updated “everything” tend to perform better than older devices. But what if there’s a law of diminishing returns for those who just don’t see the difference – enough to justify the cost of upgrading?

Apple has the same “problem” when it comes to iPad.

But is Apple truly hurting if it maintains customer satisfaction, allows its users to benefit from the latest OS-level advancements, and keeps them purchasing apps and services well within the boundaries of their ecosystem?

While I’ve not yet seen iOS 9 on an iPhone 4s, I’m interested to see how my parents feel about it when the update ultimately ships. Despite any restrictions due to hardware limitations in relation to what the OS can do on modern hardware, I believe they’ll be just as happy with their iPhones as they have been to this point.

Forget the technical clap-trap for a moment.

They’re certainly happy enough not to feel the need to switch to an alternative platform.

Perhaps the cost of having a user switch away from your platform is far greater than the cost of continuing to support an older device (especially if the code will work well enough on it)?

That’s what I’d assume – but I’m not an actuary who works for Apple.

When they’re finally ready to upgrade, will my parents be more inclined to upgrade to something that’s familiar to them (not just in brand, but in general software operation and appearance)? In knowing that my parents freak out when their web browser’s start page changes, the answer is: “beyond a shadow of a doubt.”

Apple only generates revenue if you stay with Apple – so, it’s in their best interest to keep a customer happy even if they don’t happen to upgrade to every new model that’s released. Yes, this is true for every other OEM on the planet – but Apple is an anomaly, given that its entire business model is predicated upon actively developing both hardware and software platforms.

A person is more likely to switch between one Windows OEM and another (or one Android OEM and another) if it’s perceived that the experience will be similar. To have a similar Apple experience, you can only look to Apple.

Why would Apple (or any company) want to willingly abandon customers who are still satisfied with their experience – or, perhaps worse, engender a feeling of abandonment in the user? Since Apple controls the hardware and the software, it’s reasonable to expect that they can (and do) enable certain software features for certain capable models.

In essence, Apple can continue to improve upon a device that’s four years old and improve customer satisfaction in tow. That customer satisfaction will more than likely lead to future hardware purchases (or continued software / in-app purchases).

Where Apple makes its money.

Facing the Apple Music

Indie Label Beggars Group Expresses Apple Music Concerns:

Beggars Group, like many of the unsigned independent labels, are especially apprehensive about Apple Music’s three-month free preview offer to users, a period in which artists will not be compensated for what is streamed on the service.

That’s incredibly reasonable.

As far as music is concerned, I’m just a listener (and general supporter of artists who have talents that appeal to my ear).

If this accusation is true, it seems to me that there’d be one quick fix that should make everybody happy (Apple Music users included): let labels or artists opt out of being included in the three month trial of Apple Music, but toggle their inclusion once a listener begins to pay for the Apple Music service.

The artists can still be a part of the greater (full, non-trial) Apple Music service, Apple can let the labels control the level of inclusion, and listeners still have a chance to try the Apple Music service and hear their favorite artists when they start to pay for it.

If a listener is upset that they can’t hear their favorite artists under a free trial, I’d question just how much of a “favorite” an artist truly is to the listener. The listener doesn’t need to hear their favorite music again to claim the music as a favorite.

There’s even more reason for a user to pay for a full Apple Music service if certain labels (and artists) are held back during the trial. There’d be more incentive to pay, which I can’t imagine would disappoint anybody apart from people looking for a free ride.

Obviously, this indie label isn’t concerned about discoverability. I’d imagine they’d be happy to be a part of the full Apple Music experience, but not if that means that the artists won’t be compensated fairly (whatever “fairly” is).

But, as I said, I’m just a listener.

And I’m a listener who has supported his favorite artists over the years.

Who Needs a Larger iPad?

Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.

Let’s do our best to avoid rumors and look to what’s in the code. In fact, if such spelunking did not happen, I would have hesitated to pen this post outright (because I do not like lending attention to rumors). Still, here we have it:

Both tweets were surfaced by 9to5mac in separate posts.

So, for argument’s sake, who would want an iPad screen that was physically larger (and capable of rendering more pixels) than iPad Air? I can think of a few rather largely-represented groups.

Obviously, this is not a comprehensive list of would-be users, but without knowing too much more about what appears to be a new iPad family member, it is impossible to apply the value of a larger-screen iPad beyond what we know it to be (an iOS device that carries with it a larger resolution that would scale to 263ppi on a 12.9″ screen – or 2x what the current iPad Air pushes).

Who benefits?

  • Gamers: smaller screens are more portable, but with the rise of mobile gaming (which, I’d say, includes any game developed with iPad in mind), I’d expect that great gameplay will look greater on larger surfaces. Even myopic platformist stalwarts could not refuse a larger playing area on any device.
  • Students: with the ability to run two (or more?) apps on iOS, research and documentation will be streamlined on a single device.
  • Casuals: I’ll stop short of saying “older people” (if only because I’m slightly north of youth myself), but for someone who wants to both view and explore personal media, surf social and the general Internet, plus get a little bit of necessary work done, larger screens on a trusted platform may certainly outweigh the alternative. Or, in other words, “smaller” iPad screens could have dissuaded casual users from getting iPad over a traditional Windows PC or MacBook to meet their exact needs.

Out of these three, I’d be inclined to believe that Apple would target the latter (with the formers in tow as a bonus). Many features in the next version of iOS seemingly have Windows holdouts in their crosshairs. These changes are coming around a time when Microsoft is set to release its next vision of what Windows can be. Users may very well find iOS more viable, but without “larger” hardware that gives these people the opportunity to replace their aging laptop or desktop, the updates are moot.

I’ve long suggested that the average user is already using their iPad as a primary computing device – but whatever Apple can do to further blur those lines will be perceived as an advantage.

We’re not in a post-PC era so much as we’re in an era when the PC still has its place but is largely outmoded by friendlier hardware, software, and service models for most consumers.

Niche markets (like gaming or production) notwithstanding.