Is the Apple Music Voice Plan Worth the Trade Offs?

Is the Apple Music Voice Plan Worth the Trade Offs?
Photo: nikkimeel, Shutterstock

Apple Music’s Voice Plan lets you enjoy the benefits of a commercial-free music streaming service at a relatively affordable price of A$5.99 per month. It costs the same as Apple Music’s subscription plan for students (and is half the regular subscription price), but it also removes several features — including the ubiquitous play button and other touchscreen elements. That means if you’re on Apple Music’s Voice Plan, the only way to actually control playback is through Siri. Here’s what to consider before you decide whether the Voice Plan is for you.

What is Apple Music’s Voice Plan?

If you don’t mind using Siri for everything related to Apple Music, the new Voice Plan might be a good deal for you. It’s particularly ideal for those who use the HomePod or the HomePod mini to listen to music, but for those who have other devices, it’s not as simple a choice. When you open Apple Music, you won’t be able to see any kind of touchscreen controls, which makes it cumbersome to use on non-HomePod devices.

Can Siri be a good playback assistant?

Sure, Siri is now good enough to be able to play most songs without requiring you to repeat commands a bunch of times. At least, that’s true as long as you’re requesting songs with English titles. But the moment you expand your horizons and try to play international music — especially non-English tracks — Siri still has a lot of work to do. Siri’s success rate also decreases if you’re not a native English speaker, so keep that in mind before you subscribe.

Other than Siri, what’s the catch?

The Voice Plan won’t work with non-Apple devices, including your Android phone, PS5, or smart TV. The other major omission is time-synced lyrics, which is a fun feature to have if you’re trying to sing along.

With the Voice Plan, you’ll also miss out on spatial audio and lossless music. The benefits of spatial audio depend heavily on how well the track has been mastered, but lossless music isn’t really that big of a deal.

Sadly, you’ll also have to say goodbye to downloading music to your Apple devices if you opt for the Voice Plan. This is less than ideal if you normally use it while commuting, but it won’t bother you if you always listen when you have a good internet connection. And finally, you won’t be able to see what your friends are listening to on Apple Music, if that’s a feature you normally enjoy.

Are there any other ways to get Apple Music at a lower price?

Yes! Apple regularly offers free trials and promotions; at the moment, if you’re a student, you can get the full Apple Music experience for A$5.99 per month. Alternatively, if you’ve purchased a new Apple device, you get six months of Apple Music for free.

You can also split the cost of the Apple One bundle with others to reduce how much you pay for Apple Music, or do the same thing with the family subscription that costs A$25.95 per month.

When will Apple Music launch the Voice Plan?

To use the Voice Plan, you’ll need to update to iOS 15.2. At the time of this writing, the iOS 15.2 public beta had been released, and the final release was close at hand. If you want to use it immediately, you can sign up for the iOS 15.2 public beta. Alternatively, you could wait until it’s available for everyone.

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