Apple is now rolling out access to its new, low-cost Apple Music Voice plan, first introduced this fall in the company’s hardware update.
The new service, largely designed for use with HomePod speakers or AirPods, limits consumers from accessing Apple Music using Siri commands.
Due to its nature, the voice-only service is offered at $4.99 per month, compared to $9.99 per month for the Standard Single plan.
The new music subscription is part of the broader iOS 15.2 update, which also brings other features like app privacy reports, message safety warnings for kids, the Hide My Email privacy feature and more.
Some people may be confused as to why anyone would want a music subscription designed solely for use by voice commands. But Apple wasn’t the first company to take this route.
And in 2019 Amazon introduced a cheaper way to stream Amazon Music by launching a free, ad-supported subscription that only streams to Echo speakers. In other words, it was a version of Amazon Music that could only be accessed via Alexa commands.
Only Apple’s Siri service is similar. But it’s not limited to Apple’s smart speakers alone. Instead, the company says users will be able to request music using any of their Siri-enabled devices, including HomePods, AirPods, iPhones or other devices, in addition to CarPlay.
And the new audio-only subscription isn’t a cut-down version of Apple Music with a limited selection of songs. Like traditional subscriptions, subscribers get access to Apple Music’s list of 90 million songs, tens of thousands of playlists and hundreds of playlists.
Play new moods, activities, custom mixes, and genre stations. It also includes Apple Music Radio.
Released by Apple with iOS 15.2
To access this content, users can request a song, album, or artist via Siri. They can also request some kind of playlist using voice commands.
Audio plan subscribers can also use the Apple Music app to some extent. But instead of being able to browse through the entire library, the Listen Now screen displays recently played music. It helps discover more recommendations that can be triggered either with a single click or with a Siri command.
The Radio tab provides access to live and on-demand radio. A search feature. But you can run the results by just asking Siri. The app also includes a section that teaches users how to improve Siri for Apple Music.
Users can provide specific feedback to Siri by saying things like “I like this song” or “I don’t like this song.” The music being played can also be identified by asking questions such as who sings the song or the name of the song.
Over time, users who interact with Apple Music with their voices train Siri to better understand their preferences.
In addition to competing with Amazon’s plan, Apple Music Voice could help the company access a trove of user data about Siri’s use that could help it improve its product, which has lagged behind both Alexa and Google Assistant.
It is also an easy way for the company to get users to try out the paid music subscription service for the first time.
Moreover, the audio plan can lead these users to even higher price levels after they realize the convenience of accessing on-demand and ad-free music, rather than relying on an ad-supported free option.
Apple Music Voice is available via iOS 15.2 in Australia, Austria, Canada, China, France, and Germany. In addition to Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Spain, Taiwan, the United Kingdom and the United States.