iOS 14 brings important new features such as home screen updates, widgets, improved privacy settings, and features such as Siri and HomeKit updates. But Apple has also taken the time for many of its core apps to work on some pretty big feature improvements.
One such is the Music app. Apple is going to continue to compete aggressively in the streaming music race against Spotify and iOS 14 is taking that one step further. Here’s what’s new for iOS 14 with Music.
iOS 14: What’s new about Apple Music
Firstly, Apple Music is supporting iOS 14 ‘s new widget features. The Music app provides a Recently Played widget featuring albums and playlists played recently. To launch the Music app, you can tap on the widget and start playing the music shown.
A Now Playing widget, which puts play / pause and next track buttons on your home screen, is something which is very common on Android. However, the iOS 14 API does not support this type of widget, since widgets are required to launch their parent app when taped. Developers can not attach buttons which are independent. Apple can add a special Now Playing system widget, similar to what is available in the Control Center but not present in the current beta.
The Music app is also compatible with the new AirPods enhancements, including automatic switching and headphone accommodations that can adapt sound frequencies to the hearing ability of an individual.
Here are the changes to the Music app itself:
Apple has upgraded iOS 14’s For You tab, which now comes with a new name: Listen Now.
One of Spotify users’ common complaints of Apple Music is the playlists and the discovery features aren’t as good. Listen Now clearly aims to address the angle with an even greater focus on personalization. The tab features top picks for your mood such as your heavy rotation and curated playlists, followed by Stations For You focusing on the artists you are following, and custom Apple Music mixes such as Friends Mix and New Music Mix.
Some parts in Listen Now — such as Top Picks — use this new, prominent style of poster art. It adds a nice visual variety when compared to iOS 13’s For You repeating square-shaped album lines.
Apple believes that the most popular destination for Apple Music users will now be Listen. Consequently, Listen Now sits in the tab bar at the first position, with the Library tab moving to the fourth slot.
It is certainly a catch-up feature for Spotify, but very much welcomed all the same. In the queue screen, the Music app now features a new rollout button. The Apple Music app will exhaust any queued songs, albums, and playlists you’ve selected when enabled, and then continue to play endlessly. The music is intended to be similar to what you just listen to. Creating a station that is based on the last song in your playlist is almost like a shortcut.
Setting up a station manually however is a bit annoying and not very easy to find. In contrast, the autoplay mode in the Apple Music UI is front and center, and is enabled by default. You might just be able to discover a new artist by playing it for you through the Music app.
Overhauled iPad design
This year the iPad edition of the Music app got some serious love. Finally, the iPad Music app breaks away from being just a scaled-up version of the iPhone layout.
The Music app is acquiring a new sidebar in iPadOS 14 that speeds up the navigation. You can now quickly jump from anywhere in the Music App to your playlists, radio stations and all the different parts of your personal music library. Sections in the sidebar are collapsible, so you can still edit which sections in the Library group are visible.
The Now Playing experience was also overhauled with a new design which fills the screen of the iPad. Album art, playback controls, and volume take the left side of the screen, so you can switch between time-synced lyrics or the right-hand pane Playing Next queue. On both iPhone and iPad, Now Playing’s blurry gradient background always reflects the colors found in album art, with smooth transitions as songs change, making the whole thing feel very dynamic.
New search experience
There is a new search tab now available in iOS 14 Music. If you are looking for inspiration, popular and timely music categories will surface before you even type anything in. The autocomplete results are richer and the search results screen gets a new look. Any search begins in ‘Top Results’ and combines songs, artists, playlists and more into a single relevant list. The jump bar below the search field allows you to easily filter down.
Apple has made browsing the library easier, too. You can now swipe down into any tab inside Library to reveal a contextual search field. This allows you to filter according to your current context, quickly finding the artist or album you were looking for.
Those new features are now available in the iOS 14 beta developer. Apple is releasing a public beta of iOS 14 in July, with a release planned for fall (probably September).