I recently expressed my frustrations with Apple Music and why I didn’t plan to continue using the service. I want to love Apple Music. Siri integration and the ability to have a singular place to listen to all my music, both streamed and purchased, would be a dream come true.
Unfortunately, Apple Music currently has far too many shortcomings and quirks for me to take it seriously. However, with the help of these third-party apps, I’ve found using Apple Music to be far less painful — and, in some cases, even enjoyable.
True playlist collaboration, better video support and much more
I spent some time with SoundShare a while back and it wasn’t until recently that I realized how much it really adds to the Apple Music experience. If you want a social component to your music-listening experience, SoundShare gives you that via collaborative playlists. Start building a playlist and let anyone view it and enjoy it. You can also invite collaborators to your playlists so they can add their own tracks.
SoundShare links in to YouTube for audio, which gives it the added benefit of being able to automatically stream videos. I love this feature for when I want to AirPlay a video to the Apple TV. I don’t even have to search YouTube: I find the track on SoundShare and it automatically pulls in the video so I can AirPlay it. You can also choose an option in settings so it always tried to find a version of the video with lyrics attached, if you prefer that.
I’ve found myself using SoundShare instead of Apple Music for building playlists. Since it uses YouTube, I can collaborate and invite anyone, not just Apple Music users. SoundShare also integrates SoundCloud and iTunes previews, but I don’t find them to be nearly as robust as YouTube search, so I’ve stuck with that option.
One of my biggest peeves with Apple Music, and the Music app in general, is its inability to figure out where I left off in a song and pick up there. Every other podcast app and music streaming app I’ve ever used can do this. But Apple Music either starts the song over from the beginning or starts from the very beginning of my music library — I actually deleted “ABC” by The Jackson 5 because I got so tired of hearing it every time I started my car.
Ecoute is an alternative music player that filters in your entire iTunes library, including iTunes Match and iCloud Music Library content. Unlike many other third-party players, Ecoute supports play counts and last-played dates, which will be synchronized back and forth.
Just like the Music app, you can quickly add tracks to Up Next in Ecoute and easily reorder them. Ecoute also supports 3D Touch actions from the Home screen so you can quickly play all, shuffle play or search your library.
More importantly, Ecoute doesn’t suffer the same playback issues the Music app does. I can get in and out of my car or switch Bluetooth inputs without tracks starting over or my library randomly playing from the beginning.
Apple’s stock Music app isn’t very kind to one-handed users, especially if you use a Plus model iPhone. We’ve all had times where a playlist or album ends and we quickly want to play something else. If I know exactly what I want to listen to, I may call up Siri. If I don’t, I won’t chance fiddling with the Music app if I need to focus on doing something else and can’t use two hands (like when I’m driving).
Stezza is an awesome alternative that offers an interface that requires as little attention on your part as possible. With large buttons and a bold interface, you can see at a quick glance everything you need. The main buttons for play, pause, skip and shuffle are also within one-handed reach. Like Ecoute, it pulls directly from your iTunes library and also has the ability to pull in iCloud Music.
I find myself using Stezza as my player of choice when at the gym or while driving — anytime I quickly want to tab through songs or just do something simple, like enable shuffle. You can also tap on the Now Playing box and get quick access to playlists, tracks, artists and more. Like Ecoute, Stezza also supports an Up Next playlist.
Stezza is meant to be quick, easy and accessible. If that’s all you’re after, look no further.
I’m still amazed that Apple hasn’t integrated any way to easily and dependably look up lyrics for a song. For this, I heavily rely on Musixmatch Lyrics Finder. It gives you lyrics inside the app, and you can even enable a Notification Center widget that will automatically give you lyrics for whatever song you’re listening to in Apple Music, Spotify or YouTube.
If you hear a song you like and want to remember it for later, you can also use Musixmatch to do this, just like you can with services like Shazam. I’ll admit, I don’t typically use this feature because it’s far easier to just trigger Siri and ask What song is this?, which then saves it to my iCloud account so I can either purchase or add the song to my library later.
However, if lyrics are what you what, Musixmatch does it best.