The new Music app in iOS 10: a big bold confusing mess

By , Jun 23, 2016

ios 10 music redesign

Apple Music is a great service, but the confusing and bloated user interface of the application has been criticized since the app was first released about a year ago. So when rumors started popping up that Apple had been working on simplifying the app, many got really excited, myself included.

Yet, when Apple showed off the new Music app on stage at WWDC a little over a week ago, I didn’t see anything simpler or more streamlined about the app. It’s only when I started using iOS 10 beta and the new Music app that my fears were confirmed.

Now that I’ve been playing with the Music app for a few days, I feel I have enough feedback to share a few quick thoughts with you. Don’t worry, it’s not all bad.

I don’t seem to be the only one being unimpressed by the new Music app. Jim Dalrymple of The Loop hits the nail right on the head by highlighting what I believe to be my biggest grips with the new Music app. When talking about his expectations for the Music app prior to WWDC, Dalrymple says:

Instead, we got a new interface. One that looks, in places, like a web page loaded without the corresponding CSS. An interface that requires more taps to do simple tasks like “Love” a song or find a genre radio station. For the most part, the interface is more confusing now then it’s ever been.

Big and bold doesn’t make things cleaner

In the new Apple Music app, Apple has been heavily emphasizing the different sections and subsections of the app with big bold letters. I’m not a fan of it from a design standpoint, although I think it will grow on me over time. But from a usability standpoint, I think Apple made things even worse.

Sure I can read better in what section of the app I am, but these big letters take away some precious screen real estate. The way I see it, if I tap on a tab in the Music app, I know exactly where I am, so there is no need to take 15% of the screen to remind my I am in my Library.

bloated landing page apple music
The main tab in the new Music app

To me, it feels like Apple said “let’s make things better by labeling everything with bigger letters,” but you don’t fix bloated software by using larger fonts. Again, it’s nice because it makes it easier to see where I am in the app, but it doesn’t solve the main problem. If anything, it actually highlights what a mess the app is by displaying so much information when all you want to do is play music.

Bigger is better. Sometimes

One of the big design pushes Apple made in the new Music app under iOS 10 is the use of bigger artwork when possible. Interestingly enough, after several days of usage, I feel this is actually a nice addition to the app, at least in most cases.

A perfect example of this is in the Radio tab where it can show more of my recently played stations on one screen, without stuffing in my face stations I don’t care about like the Pure Pop or Soundsystem stations.

recently played new apple music
Old Music app to the left, new to the right

Bigger controls is also a welcome addition. Lock screen controls are the perfect example of this where button are now larger, and music information such as the artist and name of the song are bigger too, making it easier to read what’s playing.

However, at times, using bigger artwork means that you can actually see less albums or playlists on one given screen. As you can see on the screenshots below, the old Music app would show me up to 6 album or playlist covers at once while the new Music app barely shows 3.

play music directly from artwork apple music

That older design also gave me a better sense of space and place. In the new design, I feel lost and overwhelmed very quickly. Maybe it’s just me.

More taps for just about everything

But to me, the real drawback here is that just about everything takes more taps to accomplish in the new Music app.

Want to Love a song? It will take you one more tap to get there.

Before, the Love button was directly next to the controls, both on the Lock screen, and inside the music player. Now if you want to Love a song, you will first have to tap on the ellipsis, then tap Love. Something tells me that loving a song that’s currently playing while cooking or driving is not going to happen anymore, because it’s now a two-step action instead of one quick tap.

By the way, the same is true on the Music app on Apple Watch.

Lock screen love new apple music
No love for the Love button in iOS 10

Want to start playing a playlist or album from the main screen? Yup, it will take you one more tap to start listening to it. Before, you would just tap on the play button overlay that is directly on the cover art. Now you need to first tap the cover art and then tap to play the first song in the album or playlist.

play music directly from artwork apple music
It will take you one more tap to play any of the albums or playlists

I know, it’s beta software

I understand that the new Music app is still in beta and things might change a little bit here and there, but I highly doubt we’ll see this app evolve too much until it is released to the public along iOS 10, presumably sometimes in September.

As I said, I’m not a fan of the overall design but I’m sure I will eventually get over it. What really bothers me the most is that everything now seems more complex, and in most cases, takes more efforts from me to get to play to what I want to listen to, or perform the actions I want to take, such as loving a song.

If you’ve been using iOS 10 beta, what’s your experience been so far with the new Music app?

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  • schnooki

    “looks, in places, like a web page loaded without the corresponding CSS” – brilliant!

  • mikesislac

    I have to say, the Now Playing screen on this iOS 10 app is simply HORRIBLE. The one on iOS 9 was f**** PERFECT!!!!!!

  • Iron Maiden

    Looks like we’ve lost the track listing that shows the tracks previously played, the next tracks coming up and the current track; i.e. where the listener is on the list. I can only find the ‘Next’ list and again, this takes more taps and searching…
    Appalling 🙁

  • Chelsea Luke

    Can anyone tell me where I can find the repeat button now? Sometimes I like to listen to songs on repeat but I can’t seem to find the option to do so on this new iOS 10 help!

    • Riley Hay

      If you scroll down slightly on the now playing screen there will be the button on the right side.

  • Alassane

    The fact that Apple thought that this new design is “better” and “simpler” than the old one just really upsets me. It’s more inconvenient, confusing, and, just overall lame.

  • Rahul Kulkarni

    music is not opening … what to do?

  • Ben Eaton

    I hate it and I hate that I can’t rate songs 5 stars anymore
    It looks like it was designed for the elderly
    I also don’t like how the album art doesnt take up the whole screen but thats minor
    overall it’s worse, but then again it has gotten worse with every new iOS

  • kellyjayne

    The up next queue is driving me nuts!
    Once I figured out how to actually access it i realized I can’t move the songs in the queue around.
    All I can do is play next or add to queue, but I can’t CLEAR what’s already there. So essentially I have to press play next in the reverse order of what I would like to listen to.

  • Jen Sinclair

    I miss the “add up to next” feature for adding individual songs up after the ones you are listening to, essentially creating temp playlists on the fly. Can’t find it anywhere except for on whole albums.

    The “more taps to get to stuff” is also super annoying.

    The rest I can deal with.

  • Benghazi Ghost

    Fonts are too big, the Artists Icons are always blank microphones, the Album Icons take up too much screen real estate, the IOS 10 update is wrongly grouping albums as compilations on my iPod Touch but not on my iPod Classic, the show Apple Music toggle doesn’t appear to do anything, users can no longer play an Album by tapping the Album Art…..this update is a drag. Remember when iTunes was fun?

  • Richard Waine

    This latest Apple Music update renders the service useless for me.

    I use the app in the most basic of forms.

    Ive always:
    – open app
    – click my music
    – (artist view) press on artist cover
    —– apple music starts playing 1st song in first album through to last song in last album

    Now i have to click on artist, click on a album then on a track to play or click artist and use shuffle which i dispise and doesnt work well when listening to albums like Pink Flloyd the wall

  • Natasha Pudaruth

    I’ve just downloaded this and now my playlist is repeating the same song over and over again. I don’t how I can stop this, can anyone help?

  • Nan Spring

    You all missed the big glaring error in it, it took away your songs being alphabetized and now all songs are alphabetized by artist only! Who does that? When I’m driving I can’t take my eyes off the road to look for songs! I used to just put it on A and click through without looking to change songs! Can’t do that anymore! Now I can only listen to playlists which I’m bored with. I have tons of songs not in playlists that I can no longer play because I can’t find them where they used to be!

  • Nan Spring

    Don’t get me started on the home button, two times just to turn it on? I’m going to wear out the button doing that!

  • Емануил Вълков

    It’s the same SHIT on the official release. I want to go back and jailbreak my lovely phone. This ios 10 thing is hilarious.

  • Birche Fishback

    why can’t i rate my songs anymore on my iPhone. #FAIL

  • Samita Vijay

    My music starts playing from a random position? How do I fix that?

  • Luke S

    It’s messy and annoying. I seriously consider downgrading to iOS 9 because of that. I mean.. you cannot even change order at “play next” list anymore. Lyrics is all messed up and doesn’t show on most of my songs.
    – I’m SO glad I haven’t paid for Apple Music plan, I used to prefer iTunes over Spotify because of the UX but now Spotify is much better.

    • Luke S

      …and these orange-pink icons look SO damn TACKY.
      I’ve never even been this disappointed by Apple 🙁

  • Spiral

    Besides many of the issues already mentioned, the biggest issues for me are: 1. You cannot add a song to a playlist within a playlist folder. 2. When you 3d touch a playlist or any other cover art, there is no shuffle button easily accessible on that screen. 3. No artwork displaying for smart playlists within the playlists area. 4. Song counts missing from playlists. 5. Once you start playing a playlist there is no way to figure out which playlist you’re playing if you’ve gone out of that playlist’s screen while listening.

  • rickdude

    Is it my imagination, or does the iPad Music app have no way to “rewind”?

  • David Cleland

    Why has the music app become so commercial and trying to sell you crap you do not want. I don’t care what is for me or browsing music news. If I want to buy music I can go to the ITunes store. I do not need to see other music in order to buy it. Can some of this crap be disabled or is there another app out there I can play my music with out without this irritation. Sick of commercialization and just want to listen to music!

  • Pretty South

    The updated Apple Music app is TERRIBLE. I am so upset that I updated my phone. It now hurts my eyes to use Apple Music. I cancelled my subscription after one day.

  • Marcus Alles

    The confusing part about it is this screen – I have no idea what it means. Downloaded? Library? Aren’t they the same?

  • Sawyer Sawyer

    The new music app has taken away from easy to use my favorite part of old app is I could choose play what was next s several songs ahead I am thinking of changing to android if I have to relearn a music app that doesn’t have what it used to and what I liked I am disappointed in new music app

  • Bruce

    Having just upgraded my 6s Plus to iOS 10, I kinda like the bigger fonts. I have vision problems that that helps. However it the ONLY think I like. The new GUI has gone from relatively clean to a complete cluster. More importatntly for me, you can no longer show only the music downloaded to your phone. I DO NOT want to see any of the junk my daughter purchases online, yet it is now on my phone and cannot be removed short of gettting rid of them in Itunes.

    Yes I know there is a selection for “Downloaded Music” in the main screen, but that selection still shows all of the purchased music that I have not physically downloaded to my phone through Itunes

  • Steven Lyall

    I like most things about iOS 10 Music App, but Search is a mess. Example – if you search for ‘Eyes’ and look in the Songs section, you correctly get all Songs with ‘Eyes’ in the title – perfect. But you also get all songs in Albums that have ‘Eyes’ in their title. I certainly want to see those albums in the Albums section of the Search results, but not in the Songs section.

    Also – when I press Search, I want to start a new search. I don’t want to be taken to the end of my last search trail.

  • Rafael L. Smith

    Is it even possible to get to the artist page directly from a song or album?
    In the old version i could click on the artist from a song to see all the music for that artist, now i either cant get anywhere, or if its a mainstream artist I can get to the Apple music page for that artist.
    which is sh1t cause im getting tricked into using up all my data playing something I already have downloaded.
    I have to go all the way back to the main screen to find the artist. Or i could manually type in the search bar. Typical apple give with one hand take away witht the other.

  • Victoria Kelly

    it will only play in shuffle, i cant play an album in order with this new update, also songs list used to be in alphabetical order now its alphabetical by artist instead