Apple Music has issues, but I’m still using the service anyway

BY Evan Selleck

Published 3 Jul 2015

Apple Music iOS app icon

Hello. My name is Evan, and despite a few switches here and there, I can now admit I’m an Apple fanboy.

My fanboy-ness for Apple has been a recurring thought in my head over the last three days. Specifically, ever since Apple launched Apple Music with iOS 8.4 earlier this week. As I noted previously, Apple Music was basically the only thing about the keynote at this year’s Worldwide Developers Conference that I really had any interest in. iOS 9 sounds great and all, but Apple Music taps into my love for music, and with an Apple flair added into the mix. Plus, Beats 1 and Connect sounded like cool features — even if I knew I probably wouldn’t be using them all that often.

I started using Apple Music right after it became available, checking out the interface, browsing the library, and I even listened in on the inaugural show hosted by Zane Lowe for Beats 1 once it went live. It took some time before Connect had anything to show for it, and, even now, it’s still pretty barren, but I can see the potential there. We’ll see if artists really have any interest in it. (I think the engagement on even the most rudimentary posts is a good sign from the users of Apple Music, at least.)

But, I’m just going to be perfectly honest with you: My experience with Apple Music has been awful.

There are so many growing pains with Apple Music at this point, that I think it’s a great idea that Apple decided to go with a three-month free trial. I doubt Apple’s going to have a fix for a lot of, or any of, these issues anytime soon, so it’s good that the company is offering an extended trial.

I’ll also tell you that Spotify, for me, is a better deal right now. It has more of the music I listen to, it has options that I prefer, and it costs the same as Apple Music. And yet, I’m still going back to Apple Music. Which is why I’m now admitting that I’m an Apple fanboy.

There are issues with Apple Music. The first thing that I noticed, outside of missing albums when compared to Spotify, was downloading songs for offline listening. This ended up being one of my biggest issues, too. I don’t have the best cellular connection in all of the places I visit where I live, so I download my music library (most of it, anyway) into a playlist for offline listening when I go outside. That was the first thing I did with Music.

Apple Music fail to download

Unfortunately, after adding over 3,000 songs to the playlist, the experience started to deteriorate. On my iPhone, I made the playlist available offline and started downloading. Almost immediately I got the error, “Unable to Download Song.” The pop-up box told me to choose “Done” or “Retry,” so I hit “Retry.” The message went away, and the downloads continued. Within about 15 minutes, that message popped up 10 more times.

I started downloading the songs at 1:30 PM. That error message would continue to pop up until 6:30 AM the next day, when the songs finished downloading. At 10:30 AM I was just checking storage, and saw that Apple Music was taking up somewhere around 18GB of storage — right where it should be. I left my house at 12:30 PM and there were only 49 songs in the playlist that was supposed to have over 3,000 tracks.

Here’s a fun fact about Apple Music: There’s no toggle to turn off mobile downloads of songs in Apple Music. At least, I can’t find one. I left my house during the time that Music was downloading songs, and since my common sense wouldn’t think it would keep downloading over cellular by default, I didn’t think anything of it. And then, on my way home, AT&T text me that I had used 75% of my data allotment for the month. Apple Music managed to use 2GB of data. (If you’ve found this toggle, be sure to let me know where it is.)

The playlist that had used 2GB of my data to download those songs had apparently just lost all of those songs for no reason whatsoever. I hadn’t even opened Music on the iPhone in a couple of hours, but the songs were just gone.

Apple Music cancel downloads

(Canceling downloads can be a pain, too, because the option to “cancel all downloads” is, for an inexplicable reason, at the bottom of the list. So, if you’ve got hundreds, or thousands, of songs being downloaded, you have to scroll to the very bottom (which is a lag fest) to cancel them, if that’s what you want to do.)

The experience on the iPad is awful so far. The interface just stops working every once in awhile, scrolling is hindered by a ton of lag, and for whatever reason artist pages take forever to load the actual layout. Even clicking on an artist, as the video above depicts, can be a remarkably dumb. By far, I’ve had the worst time with Apple Music on the iPad Air 2 so far, and I’ve just opted to not using the service on the tablet at all now. Except for listening to Beats 1.

And then there’s the missing albums compared to Spotify. Oh, and adding a song, or album, to a playlist, and only to a playlist, will automatically add that song or album to My Music. I understand that that’s a little thing, but it’s annoying because there are some albums that I want to just have in a playlist for certain things, like when I’m writing. When I just load up my general library, some of those songs I listen to when I’m writing aren’t what I want to hear at any other time. It just means I have to skip the song, which seems to defeat the general purpose of Music.

Despite all of this, despite the fact that I have a laundry list of reasons why I should still be using Spotify, I keep going back to Apple Music. I’m using it right now as I write this, in fact. I know that Apple’s going to take its time fixing these issues, and some of them probably won’t be fixed at all, but I’m still using the service.

I don’t think Apple Music should have been released to the public yet. There are too many bugs. But we’re beyond that at this point. It’s out there, people are using it (and liking it, from what I’ve seen), so now it’s all about refining the experience. Fixing what’s not working properly, or even up to snuff, and making sure that the experience only gets better from here.

Have you noticed any issues with Apple Music yet? Let me know down in the comments how your time with the new music streaming service has gone so far.