Apple’s Mysterious New Music App – Video

Apple's Mysterious New Music App

Speaker 1: Everyone is hungry for new Apple rumors. What’s the next iPhone? What’s the next iPad? What’s the VR headset gonna look like? Gimme, gimme, gimme those sweet, sweet speculations. Anonymous sources. Yeah, but if you’re looking for a clue to what Apple’s next big thing is gonna be, sometimes we just gotta look to Apple software. Names of future products are often hidden in plain sight, just listed in lines of iOS beta code. Now of course, we all know Apple’s working on new hardware, like new [00:00:30] iPhones, a new VR headset. But there’s one more thing. Apple is quietly cooking up right now. That could be huge in 2023. You haven’t heard folks talk about it much. It’s a new standalone app and it can change everything you know about music streaming. Allow me to catch you up on Apple Classical. I’m Bridget Carey. And this is one more thing Apple announced over a year ago, that it’s making another music streaming app just for classical music, something separate from the existing Apple Music app and that it would come out in [00:01:00] 2022.

Speaker 1: But that didn’t happen. Clearly something’s not ready. However, we still see its existence referenced in beta code. So this music project may not be dead. It just may be really hard to pull off, right? The more details I dig up about this app, I am just so fascinated by the project that I wanted to do a whole video breaking down the issue. Apple’s trying to solve a problem in streaming that is just very daunting today. Streaming algorithms across the board are terrible at classical music. [00:01:30] You can’t serve up classical music the same way you do other genres of musical styles. So the user experience ends up being a mess, like a good Beethoven sonata. This problem has a three-part structure. First off, it’s a search problem because there are different data fields needed when looking up a classical music piece. If you’re looking up a movement, you don’t just want a composer and track.

Speaker 1: There’s a ton more to consider. Who was the conductor? The soloist was this performed by a particular orchestra? Or if this was an opera [00:02:00] who was the cast and is an old recording or something newer in high Fidelity services right now are cramming this all into one line and it’s just a nightmare to read. Not to mention there could be hundreds of versions of the same piece and it’s hard to search. And that leads us directly into the second issue. The layout problem. Here is an example someone shared with me on how frustrating this can get. Now this is a screenshot of Amazon Primes music app. This is what you see when you open up an album of Beethoven Sonatas. But you [00:02:30] wanna see the second movement of number eight. Which one’s number eight? He’s got 29 sonatas. They’re all divided up into movements. What’s anyone looking at here?

Speaker 1: Let’s switch over and look at the current Apple Music app. I’m a subscriber, so you can see here the same problem does come about. It’s hard to tell exactly what you’re getting because the lines are cutting off all the details. Now, you could have better luck diving into a specific album. Here you can see apples breaking it down better by showing the individual movements. But if you go over to [00:03:00] Beethoven’s main page, all of the recommended albums here mostly have tracks that are grayed out. I cannot listen to them. It seems to not have the rights to stream. So why are these albums even being recommended to me? And now that brings me to the third problem. Classical music fans are missing out on discovery and recommendations because of how dumb computers are with categorizing the data. There are millions of songs in classical libraries.

Speaker 1: Over 300 years of music. Music changes over 300 years, and yet [00:03:30] styles and eras are often lumped together as if they are the same. Bach is not debut C. It’s like saying, oh, did you like the Bee Gees in 1978? Then you must like Nirvana from 1992. No, what music changed? If you ask Siri to play pop hits and it played Katy Perry and then Billy Idol, and then Elvis, you throw your home pod out the window. I read a nine to five Mac piece about this problem where someone said they were recommended to listen to Johann straws after listening to Hector Buros. [00:04:00] One is a proper Austrian waltz that is whimsical little dance movements and Buros makes giant in your face. French operas so often recommendations are dumb. Oh, you like classical? You must like violins. Here’s a cold play song played by a string quartet.

Speaker 1: It’s like going to the bar and a bartender knows you like something simple. So he serves you a glass of wine and a glass of vodka. Oh, they both have alcohol, but you think the bartender’s an idiot. <laugh> Mozart is the kind of music you might play around kids. Chop is for [00:04:30] a candle at dinner, there are moods, you know? And another dumb problem is that what so many classical songs to pick from. Why is it that playlist always recommend Canon and D all the time no matter what? Yeah, classical music is stuck playing its greatest hits made in 1680. If you thumbs down Canon and D to teach the system that you don’t like that song, how is information changing your recommendations? I’m sorry you do not like this Canon and D, would you like Canon and D performed by someone else? No. But if you thumbs [00:05:00] down a performance, does it understand you hate Cannon and Dee?

Speaker 1: Or will it think you hate the particular pianist performing it? Now, apple is doing something about all of this, and by doing something, I mean Apple bought a company that was doing something in August of 2021. Apple announced it, acquired the classical music streaming service prime phonic, and then it shut down prime phonic the very next week. Apple said from this purchase it was gonna use prime phonic to build a standalone classical music app. Apple called it a dedicated experience, [00:05:30] but also Apple said it would use some of that knowledge to boost the main Apple music experience. Prime phonic tackled all of these problems I explained by just being designed differently. Pocket Lent has a nice detailed piece about what that app was like. If you didn’t see it before the shutdown, you could search for classical music by period genre style, or who was involved in the performance.

Speaker 1: It had scans of CD booklet details. It gave background on what inspired a piece or who the composer trained. If you wanna find out [00:06:00] how this music inspired future pieces, MPH Phonic was founded in 2017 and it bragged that it was home to over 3.5 million tracks with the largest classical database in the world. That 230,000 albums. And the main factor that made all of that tick is human smarts. One, Beethoven piano cons. Concerto could have 500 recordings. You just need humans to curate those picks. Weed it down a little bit. There are these fun little problems that you don’t always see. For example, there are two different ways [00:06:30] people spell the name of Russian American pianist and composer Sergei Rock Monin off. Some ended in off O F F, some ended in a V. And you need humans that can program for these oddities between album spellings so you don’t miss out on content.

Speaker 1: When Apple purchased Prime phonic, it left folks asking why would an Apple just bring it all into the main Apple Music app? Well, when you have so many different layout and data needs, maybe there is a point that it just needs to be a separate program. But it is a good question [00:07:00] and it’s always possible. Apple could roll it together for a smoother user experience. If I’m asking Siri on the HomePod to play different types of music, I don’t wanna have to pull up my phone and switch apps to get a full Apple music experience. There are just some mystery still and how Apple’s gotta pull it off. Sorry, I just wanted to use the magnifying glass again. Even though it didn’t come out in 2022, like Apple first announced, there is evidence the project is not scrapped completely. The iOS 16.3 release candidate [00:07:30] in January is still mentioned the phrase Apple Music classical inside the main music app.

Speaker 1: It had a line that read Explore this album in the app designed for classical music, but it’s not the first reference. We saw a similar language in the Android version of Apple Music. In the code. There was a phrase open in Apple classical, and that was back in February of last year. Some have suspected the new classical app could be released in a future iOS update. It has been done before by Apple. There was the freeform whiteboard [00:08:00] app that came out late last year, and there’s the Music memos app from back in 2016 where Apple could just have this sucker show up randomly in the app store. Apple’s done that before with its clips. Video app payment might be an area of struggle here for Apple. Maybe it’s one of the reasons why it’s delayed and it’s something pph phonic treated differently than with pop music.

Speaker 1: Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony lasts for over one hour and there are different movements. Sophonic, [00:08:30] they have to pay somebody. They structured payment to an artist or label based on how long a piece was played to be more fair than just paying once for the title. So this structure could have artists and labels thinking differently on how streaming pays out, and if Apple does launch this, this app, it could lead to users being hungry for details about their music. Regardless if it’s a classical song or not. You just gotta hope this whole experience is smooth or it would be just such a sad waste of talent to [00:09:00] destroy prime phonic for nothing. I had fun learning about this, I hope you did too. Let me know what you think of this whole concept of a separate classical music app. But music isn’t the only new Apple service we could see this year. We’re still waiting on an Apple card savings account that was announced in October or what Apple Pay later is gonna look like. That announcement was made in WW d c last year. If there’s an Apple secret project you want me to dive more into, let me know in the comments. Thanks for watching.

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