iTunes has become a slow and bloated mess over the years — which is why it no longer exists on Mac. But for those who are stuck with Windows, suffering iTunes is necessary if you want to enjoy Apple Music. Or is it?
There are other ways to take advantage of your Apple Music subscription on third-party machines. You could use the web app in a browser of your choice, or you could download Cider, a new and far greater iTunes alternative.
Cider, which is also available on Mac if you aren’t happy with the default Music app, offers a clean and simple user interface and almost all of the features we’ve come to expect from Apple’s streaming service — plus extras.
Cider replaces Apple Music Electron
Cider is an open-source app that started out as Apple Music Electron. It was originally designed to avoid “Apple’s horrible locked in ecosystem” and to allow for “some breath-ability in your experience,” its developers explain.
It looks a lot like the Music app for macOS, but with a darker interface, and it’s a huge improvement over iTunes on Windows. Cider even packs a number of useful features you won’t find elsewhere, like easy access to recent tracks.
Cider is much better than iTunes
Cider also lets you follow your favorite artists, adds Apple Podcasts integration, and offers a terrific Remote Control feature that lets you control playback on other devices — such as your iPhone. None of which are offered by Apple.
It also offers live lyrics and spatial audio, though some features — such as lossless music — are missing because Apple doesn’t allow third-party apps to use them. Despite that, Cider is a huge improvement over iTunes on Windows.
You may even prefer it to the default Music app on macOS. In fact, the only major reason to keep on using Apple’s own software is if lossless music is essential to you. In almost every other way, Cider is better.
Cider is completely aboveboard
Cider is built using the official Apple Music API, so it’s not some hack that’s going to stop working any time soon. It’s all aboveboard, and the team behind it — the Cider Collective — is determined to keep working to make it even better.
The app is in “alpha” right now, which means development is still in the early stages. You may encounter some bugs and performance hiccups here and there, but Cider is available to anyone who wants to use it.
If you’re on Windows, you can get Cider from the Microsoft Store. It’s free for 24 hours, then just $0.99 to keep. If you’re on macOS or Linux, Cider is available from Github. An Apple Music subscription is required.