I used to love my iPod. I remember painfully downloading video podcasts on a rubbish internet connection and spending too long syncing them to the iPod video that I owned (RIP Gametrailers.com). Sure it wasn’t ideal, it had some teething problems before its prime time on mobile phones but it was certainly forward thinking. Another forward thinking concept that never transferred from the iPod to its iPhone brethren was the always impressive Genius feature. Since 2008 it has lived on iTunes and the iPod but never made its way to Apple’s phone line, that is until iOS 14 (sort of).
For those of you not in the know, Genius had a meaning before Apple started calling their repair technicians the same phrase. Genius was a feature that could automatically generate a playlist of songs from your library that ‘go great together’. By (anonymously) sending Apple the songs you have in your library they would be able to recommend some absolute banger playlists of songs you wouldn’t ever think would go together. As time went on, its recommendations would enhance, suggest even more music and update with your library too. Eventually they even offered Genius Mixes which took a genre of music from your library and offered you a generated playlist based upon said genre – And of course you would pick Ska everytime, what other genres even are there?
Apple Music and Spotify have many curated Just for You and ‘based on what you listen to’ playlist features but nothing matches that special feeling of listening to the latest Linkin Park song, pressing a button and it magically spitting out songs that it knew you would like because that song was in your library. A decade later having this feature paired with mobile phones and an (almost) unlimited music library to pick from, the music pairing possibilities are endless. As you’ve been using the service for a while now those magical algorithms have been at work which will make sure there is no chance you’d be recommended The Tings Tings after listening to System of a Down.
“iOS 14 is not out yet, why are you getting excited?”
You are right, reader, iOS 14 is currently in beta. I usually show caution when installing beta software for something I use so often but with the creation of widgets on the home screen my interest peaked. However these widgets are currently lacking as they are all obviously based upon Apple apps. Personally I do not need a current news headline, my calendar or the weather staring me in the face when I am launching a podcast, if I cared enough I’d launch the app myself. Disappointed in installing the beta, I launched Apple Music and was surprised that this is where iOS 14 shines the most for a musically inclined person like myself.
There seems to be a lot more focus put upon discovering new music. The first section you see is Listen Now, urging you to explore what is available. Albums now seem more focal as the artwork expands full screen with editorials underneath for a more professional feel. This now feels more like a fully featured app that is comparable to Spotify from a user perspective. Stashed away within the realms of the queued songs is where the real magic happens.
Along with the usual shuffle and repeat buttons is a simple infinity sign. It’s just sitting there, no fanfare, no special Apple branding, it’s just called Autoplay and that’s it. Diving into the features list Apple say:
“Now Apple Music keeps the music playing. When you’ve reached the end of a song or playlist, Autoplay finds similar songs to keep the music playing.”
Autoplay is the Genius computer brain I have always wanted on my iPhone since the very beginning! Since installing iOS 14 beta, I have found more new songs through Apple Music than I have since becoming a subscriber years ago. I play songs just to see what they recommend. It is my new obsession, I must hear it all. Being locked inside, I thought not seeing live music was torturing my soul, I felt that I was not discovering any music noteworthy but thanks to this simple feature I once again have a passion for music through hearing artists both new and classics I have not heard before.
Sure it won’t bring back the simpler days of the iPod, when there wasn’t a killer virus and blood sucking hornets stopping me from going to music gigs, but this at the very least has kept me happy during these bastard ‘trying times’.
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