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Apple Isn’t Letting You Change The Default Music Service In iOS 14.5, But Actually May Just Be It

By: Vishal Mathur

Last Updated: March 05, 2021, 10:48 IST

Apple Isn’t Letting You Change The Default Music Service In iOS 14.5, But Actually May Just Be It

Apple has confirmed that the ability to choose a music or podcast playback app when using Siri on the iPhone, doesn't actually mean you're setting a default music streaming app.

Apple has made a few things clear about the iOS 14.5 beta versions and how a much-awaited feature would actually work when iOS 14.5 finally rolls out for iPhone users as the final avatar, sometime in the coming weeks. Basically, there has been some excitement in some circles that Apple may allow users to set a default music streaming app in iOS 14.5, allowing users to set another music service instead of Apple Music as the default for Siri requests. Perhaps that assumption was expected, after Apple allowed users to set their preferred web browser with iOS 14, if they didn’t want to use Safari, or for email apps if the Apple Mail isn’t default. However, Apple has since clarified how the default music streaming app feature actually works in the iOS 14.5 beta versions.

This all started off when iOS 14.5 beta version started asking users to specify which music app, they would want the results to be pulled from, when they invoked Siri to request to play music. For most intents and assumptions, that would be akin to setting a new default app for music streaming. However, Apple doesn’t think so. What this is, instead, is a Siri-intelligence based feature—says the tech giant in a clarification made to Techcrunch. This means the results and data from different music streaming apps can help Siri better understand your music listening preferences over time and improve the results. When you ask Siri to play any music (song, artist, album or playlist) with iOS 14.5, Siri will turn around and ask you to choose a service that you’d want to pick for playing back what you’ve just requested for. Yet, Siri may ask you to pick the preferred streaming app at any time later as well when you make another request—it wouldn’t if whatever app you selected was actually set as default.

Apple also confirms that iOS 14.5 will not have any option to change the default music streaming app and Apple Music will continue to be that. Yet, the Siri-intelligence feature will support most, if not all, streaming apps installed on your Apple iPhone—this would include Apple Music, Spotify, Apple Podcasts and more. App developers will have the option of allowing Siri to access more intelligent features from their app, further helping with customized and accurate responses. The addition of this Siri feature also doesn’t change the existing way of manually selecting an app that you want to use for music—for instance, you can still say “play trance music on Spotify” and Siri will launch Spotify and play your trance music preferences from there.

We still do not know if this feature will appear, in exactly this format, when the final release of iOS 14.5 is made available for all iPhone users. Yet, the addition of this option to choose other music streaming apps installed on your phone, in a sort of a default mode when asking Siri, could be a response to the allegations levelled against Apple for what has been called anti-competitive behavior. Spotify, which rivals the Apple Music streaming app, has also been critical of what it calls an unfair advantage for Apple Music within Apple’s own ecosystem of devices and platforms, and also the commission that Apple keeps for in-app purchases—that’s up to 30% of the transaction, depending on the type of in-app purchase made by a user. Earlier this week, regulators in the UK began probing allegations of App Store monopoly and whether Apple has a dominant position in app distribution on its devices. Apple does not allow any third-party app stores on any of its platforms—iOS for iPhones, iPadOS for the Apple iPad and macOS for the Mac computing devices.

“The App Store has been an engine of success for app developers, in part because of the rigorous standards we have in place — applied fairly and equally to all developers — to protect customers from malware and to prevent rampant data collection without their consent,” Apple said in a statement, reported by Reuters. Earlier, authorities in Netherlands also began a similar investigation, while last year, the European Commission also began a fact-finding mission on the App Store commission fees.

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