It’s rare to see Apple add options to iOS that allow you to set the app you actually want to use to accomplish something as the default, rather than forcing you to use the official Apple app. And while I doubt you’ll ever be able to use anything other than the App Store to get new software on your iPhone (sans jailbreaking it), at least you’ll soon be able to pick which app you want to use to play your music by default.
This oft-discussed feature is expected to be a part of iOS 14.5, but there was a bit of a rocky patch in its development: The option showed up in the beta, left in a subsequent update, and is now back again. That’s normal, though — and now that it’s back, I’m confident it will appear in the final build of iOS 14.5, whenever that arrives.
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If you want to check out this setting right now, you’ll have to go through the usual process of installing the iOS 14.5 developer beta (version 3, as of this writing). It’s not hard to do, but as always, I’ll remind you that installing a beta OS carries with it the risk of slowing down your phone, making some apps act fussy, or causing any number of other quirky issues that won’t be fixed until later in the beta (or with the final release).
There’s no setting you’ll tap to change your default music player, which is a curious omission I hope Apple adds to the shipped version of iOS 14.5. Instead, you’ll have to ask Siri to play music, such requesting a song by your favourite band. When you do — and if you have multiple music apps installed on your device — you’ll be asked to pick one as your default.
As of now, you only get one shot at this. Whatever you pick becomes the default for your future “Hey Siri” commands, and it takes some fussing around to get the prompt to load again if you change your mind. (Again, it would be much easier to have this as an option somewhere in Settings > Music, but what do I know?)
That said, if you still want to play music from different services or apps installed on your device, all you have to do is add the name of that service to your request, and Siri will obey. So, for example, you could say “Play Nine Inch Nails” to listen via the default service you previously selected. Or you can say, “Play Nine Inch Nails on Spotify” to launch the music on that app instead.
This is an admittedly clunky way to set a default music player on iOS, but that’s the way things are (for now). We’ll update this article if, or when, the steps change in a subsequent beta.