Apple Music voice plan: how does it work?
Apple Music is among the most popular audio streaming services in the world and continues to improve over time. It’s not even limited to Apple devices; you can use Apple Music even on Android smartphones, computers, Amazon or Google smart speakers, and any web browser. Additionally, the addition of high-resolution audio streaming without a price increase has made it one of the best-equipped and most budget-friendly audio streaming services in India, especially if you have at least one Apple gadget with which to use. use it. .
With the new iOS 15.2 update, Apple is now rolling out support for the Apple Music Voice plan, which is now the most affordable level available on the service. Priced at Rs. 49 per month in India, the Apple Music Voice Plan offers access to the streaming service’s full catalog of over 90 million tracks on supported devices, but with a caveat: you must use voice commands to Siri to request tracks or playlists. I had a chance to try it out and here’s how the new Apple Music Voice plan works.
Apple Music Voice Plan: price, free trial details
Announced worldwide in October 2021, the Apple Music Voice plan is priced at Rs. 49 per month in India. This plan provides access to individual tracks and curated playlists. You get ad-free uninterrupted streaming, the ability to skip tracks, and more.
Interestingly, you can even try the service for free before you subscribe; there’s a seven-day free trial that you can activate with just one voice command, without needing to enter payment details. You can also get a three-month free trial that will automatically start billing you after that date, using any payment method linked to your Apple account. The most important point to note is that the only way to access most content with the voice plane is to send voice commands to Siri on a compatible device.
Apple Music Voice Plan: compatible devices
The Apple Music Voice Plan works with voice commands from Siri, Apple’s voice assistant for its smartphones and other devices. That said, to be able to subscribe to the voice plan or even use the free trial, you need to be on iOS 15.2, iPadOS 15.2, watchOS 8.3, tvOS 15.2, macOS 12.1, or software version 15.2 for HomePod and HomePod mini smart speakers. .
Of course, you’ll also need a device with the built-in Siri voice assistant and internet connectivity. I have tried using voice commands to retrieve tracks and playlists on a number of devices including an Apple HomePod mini, an Apple iPhone 13, and a CarPlay compatible system with the same iPhone connected. It also works on Apple Watch, AirPods headphones and earphones, Mac computers, and Apple TV streaming devices.
Apple Music Voice Plan: how does it work?
I activated the 7-day trial of the Apple Music Voice plan on the HomePod mini with a simple voice command: “Hey Siri, start my Apple Music Voice trial”. The iPhone linked to the same Apple account as the HomePod mini showed that I was successfully subscribed to the free trial and was able to play tracks and playlists on both the smart speaker and on the smartphone.
For voice plan subscribers, the Apple Music app on any device will show basic recommendations and limited listening history through the “Listen Now” tab. Some of these tracks and playlists are playable without voice commands, but this list is limited. This is the only part of the experience that is not based on voice and searching for specific tracks is not possible through the app.
The Search tab displays plenty of recommendations and suggestions, neatly categorized by genre, mood, and other criteria. However, I could only play those tracks or playlists with a voice command to Siri. The catalog is extensive, but a lot of the experience depends on telling Apple’s voice assistant how to do it.
I was able to retrieve just about any curated track or playlist with a voice command. Playing a track is straightforward and worked well for me on the HomePod mini and iPhone 13 mini. I was able to read most of the songs with simple voice commands, and Siri is well suited to Indian accent and usage preferences. When I requested a single track, Apple Music automatically selected a recommendation playlist based on it to keep playing after I finished.
I was also able to request different playlists by genre, era, and artist. This included somewhat complicated requests such as “play upbeat 1980s music” or “play Hindi music with Shah Rukh Khan”, with Siri usually succeeding in generating a decent demand-based playlist.
With the language set to English (India), Siri is also able to respond to requests in some regional languages, but works best when speaking English. It should be noted that Apple Music features such as track downloads, lossless audio streaming, and spatial audio with Dolby Atmos are not vocally supported at this time. You also can’t create custom playlists or add tracks to your library unless you’ve purchased them through iTunes.
Siri and Apple Music are well suited for working with voice commands on supported devices, which will be key to how the voice plane works. However, only being able to use voice commands to pick up tracks has its drawbacks. Often times I wasn’t able to play specific remixes or versions of a song, or a remix or cover was played when I wanted the original.
The longer the track or artist name, the longer the command, which often led to Siri slips and poor playback of the track. This would be easily fixed by manually searching for a track by text, but that is not an option here.
Apple Music is arguably the best streaming service in India right now, thanks to wide availability, access to high-resolution and Dolby Atmos tracks, and a huge library that covers a wide range of genres and artists. If you are in India, the value for money is even better, with prices considerably lower than the equivalents in most world markets. If you already own Apple devices like an iPhone or HomePod mini, an Apple Music subscription is a no-brainer.
The voice plan, despite its limitations on how you can access music, is a good addition to the existing options, giving users an affordable way to get started with premium music streaming. This may make sense for buyers who buy more affordable iPhone or iPad models, but then again the individual plan at Rs. 99 per month (or Rs. 999 per year) is not much more expensive. and offers many more features.
Also, an Apple One or Apple Music Family plan offers better value for money, especially in India. If you qualify for the student plan, which is also priced at Rs. 49 per month, you will get the same features as the more expensive individual plan.
That said, the Apple Music voice plan could be especially useful if you have HomePod mini or AirPods headphones, which are designed to work seamlessly with the Siri voice assistant. It might be worth starting, before finally upgrading to Rs. 99 per month Individual Plan or Rs. 149 per month Family Plan. It might even be used long term if you tend to do most of your listening time on a smart speaker like the HomePod mini.