iOS 10 Makes Non-Streaming Music a Second-Class Citizen
The release of iOS 10 is just around the corner. Iâ€™ve been running the public beta on my phone for a few weeks, and I think itâ€™s going to be an incredible update. Itâ€™ll be even better once I can run it with watchOS 3, but thatâ€™s neither here nor there. All the UI tweaks, features, and simple improvements have made using my iPhone so much easier and more pleasant, with one exception.
That is: the Music app.
I wonâ€™t deny that the iOS 10 Music app is a huge step up from the convoluted mess that was iOS 9.3â€™s Music app. I can actually figure out how to navigate, control the playback queue, and find my music. The new interface is also a lot more visually appealing. Iâ€™m a big fan of the new, bold San Francisco font used for section headers. It looks and it works great, though itâ€™s not likely to sway me back from Cesium any time soon.
The problem I have with the Music app can be summarized in one screenshot. I have highlighted the offending feature, in case you missed it.
If I want to view only my locally stored, downloaded music, there is now a separate menu option. For everything iOS 9.3â€™s Music app got wrong, and boy did it get a lot wrong, there was at least a simple toggle that would hide all my cloud and iTunes purchases not stored on my phone. It didnâ€™t work all that often, but at least it was there. Apple showed they cared, just a little, about us legacy luddites who still synchronized music to our phones over USB like an animal. And to be honest, after the last time I tried Appleâ€™s cloud music solutions, Iâ€™m going to stick with syncing until Apple takes it away.
Replacing the â€œDownloaded Musicâ€ toggle with a menu option means there is now an additional step between me and getting a view into the music I keep on my phone. Itâ€™s additional friction, and it renders the music synced and stored on our devices to second-class citizen status. Showing me all the artists and albums I bought on iTunes, even if I donâ€™t have them on my device, is not a benefit. There is a reason I didnâ€™t sync those songs to my phone. Limited space forces me to keep only a subset of my library, the music I know Iâ€™ll want to listen to most often. This is fine. If I want to listen to something I donâ€™t normally keep on my phone, Iâ€™ll sync it.
And before you ask, yes, I already filed a Feedback report.
I think itâ€™s fine for Apple to create a Music app that puts streaming and the cloud first. This is the future, and how most of Appleâ€™s users listen to their music. Fine. Itâ€™s a future I want no part of, until they drag me there, kicking and screaming, but I admit itâ€™s the future. That doesnâ€™t mean the streaming and cloud first Music app needs to leave local music users as second class citizens. A toggle is a simple way to streamline and keep the iOS Music experience pleasant for users who donâ€™t stream or have poor connectivity. You canâ€™t stream music in a subway tunnel with no cellular or wi-fi connection. And letâ€™s not forget those poor iPod Touch users.
You might think Iâ€™m just complaining about a zeroth-world problem, and I might be. Despite it, music is something Iâ€™m passionate about. Itâ€™s a huge part of my life. My music listening habits are strange and idiosyncratic in an age where everything is streaming, but theyâ€™re mine. And I know Iâ€™m not alone. Just make local music a toggle again, Apple. Itâ€™s not hardâ€”you already did it once.