Apple Music is one of the built-in apps on iOS. Regardless of how Apple is praised for its excellent ecosystem, Apple Music does not attract most of the users’ eyes among the competitive streaming-music service market. Till June 2019, Spotify has a 36% market share which followed by Apple Music with an 18% market share(54.7 million subscribers), including 3-month free trial users. Why would it happen? Why those iPhone users would rather download a new player from App Store than using what they already have on iPhone?
The primary users of Apple Music are those who want to listen to music on their mobile devices and have willing to pay for the service. The secondary users will be professional users who not only listen to music but also explore more options when using it. The secondary users might be music editors, singers, musicians, etc.
1.2 Problems and Goals
The core problem that Apple Music tries to solve is individuals listen to music on their devices, including iPhone, iPad, Macbook, iMac and now even iWatch. Apple is trying to provide a seamless streaming music service for its users, more broadly, together with other Apple apps provide users an ecosystem. For Apple Inc., Apple Music is not merely a music player, but a key part of its goal to serve OS users’ daily needs related to electronic device using.
- Sign in/Sign up
One of the greatest values of the apple ecosystem appears here. Users do not need to sign in or sign up. Once open Apple Music, your apple id is already there.
The tab bar of Apple music is divide to 5 main functions: Library, For you, Browse, Radio and Search.
The positive side about the tab bar is, if no content shows up on a page, it will show guidance about how to use this function. It is helpful for first-time users who do not understand the app, and it serves as onboarding tutorials for new users. Besides, it is reasonable to use a tab bar in Apple Music since its main functions are distinguished and paralleled.
On the other side, the distinction between “For you”, “Browse” and “Radio” is not that clear. They all serve as recommendations but from different perspectives. However, from a user’s perspective, do they need to be separated into different tabs? For example, if a user wants to listen to something new, which tab he should choose? In this case, the user needs to look at both ‘For you’ and ‘browse’ tabs to find something that s/he might be interested in. As far as I can see, it will be less confusing if “For you” and “Radio” can be moved to Browse. It can also be noticed that those three tabs are clustered in the center, it happens to prove the similarity between them. If needed, Radio can be separated for those drivers who listen to radios since it can provide them the simplest way to get radio started when driving.
3. Information Architecture
Let’s dive into information details of the tab ‘For you’ and ‘Browse’. For these two tabs, there’s too much information stack on them. A user might simply just want to listen to something new, but they need to do a lot of decisions before finding an interesting area and tap into it.
In the For You tab, there are 10 topics related to the user’s interest. It requires a lot of decision making from users, which is unwise. And for each topic, users can swipe to see more. Not many users will have patient to scroll to the bottom unless the recommendation algorithms suck. The better solution will be merging the whole For You tab into a topic in Browse, and put different types of recommendations in that topic where users can swipe to choose. It is not always better to provide as much information to users.
The same issue occurs in Browse tab — — too much random information. What is the difference between ‘New music’ and ‘Just updated’? And why the ‘New Music’ is in the middle of the page instead of the top? What means ‘You gotta hear’?
What is worse is in the Daily Top 100. There are 116 playlists on this page(Yes. I counted it!), from Australia to Zimbabwe. What Apple Music did is put the most popular playlists to the top, like Global and USA. However, people from other countries still need to scroll down to find their own countries. There are a lot of ways to provide better user experience, for example, the A-Z index tab or filter by continents. Or even simpler, according to area and language setting to locate users’ interest.
4. Interaction design
When tapping in For You tab for the first time, Apple Music will ask users to provide information about their music preferences. The interaction itself at this stage is fancy and eyes-ball catching. But how to address those interactions should be reconsidered. Users need to look into the caption at the top before they doing so, which will be an annoying thing for them. Instead of tap once, twice and press and hold, I think tap once can solve the problem. At least for most users, they would not want to move a whole genre from their playlist forever. Besides, the progress circle at the bottom is confusing me, it takes me some time to figure out how many steps are left. For the first step, users need to select one genre, and the progress bar fills up to 50%. But for the second step, users will need to select 3 artists. Though it wants to show where users are in the process, it still confuses users.
At last, the interactive selection here is not really helping with the goal. To select their favorite artist successfully, users need to either tap on More Artists for multiple times or text their favorite artists directly by using ‘Add an Artist’, which makes the whole interaction meaningless.
The good thing about this interaction is that it’s cool and fancy. The animation time and curv are appropriated.
5. UI design
Similarity: Gestalt principles are leveraged to help users understand the hierarchy of information in a page and between the pages. Head titles across the different pages are consistently the same, and so do the subtitle within a page.
Others: Using the app requires a lot of scrolling and swiping, which becomes a burden for users. There are two problems come with it. First, do users need so much information? Second, isn’t there a better way to present those playlists? I found the answer to the second question in Apple Music. Apparently, a group of lists with smaller images and text will greatly increase the efficiency of users scanning information.