Four tricks worth stealing from Apple Music

If a feature is popular on one music app, it doesn't take long for it to start appearing on other apps. This happens more for big, bold features than it does for the sophisticated little touches that make good apps great, which is a shame because these four features on Apple Music's Android app might go unnoticed by most, but they could have a massive impact if they were brought to more music apps.

Hey, Spotify and Google Play Music, you might wanna take some notes.

Pause means pause

I'll hit play when I'm good and ready.

I'll hit play when I'm good and ready.

When you've come to a cluster of duds in a shuffle, it's natural to pause and start swiping through your queue until you find something you like. For many of us, those swipes are interrupted by a need to pause the music again and again because each time we go to a new song, that song starts automatically. Some users like this, but some of us prefer to wait until we've hit Play again for the music to resume. In Apple Music, you can hit next/previous song while paused and the next song won't start instantly. It's a small features, but it's the little things that matter in a music app.

Individual song downloads

Want to download a single song from an album in your library? Well, you have two options: download the whole album, or you can add that song to a playlist and download that whole playlist. The only songs you can download by themselves are singles, one-track albums. This has been a fairly common gripe on streaming music services for years, and I've been known to build a playlist with two or three songs just so I could download them without getting the songs I don't like stuck in my downloaded music shuffle.

Apple Music has a truly miraculous feature: you can download a single song without downloading the whole album. Next to every single song in every single playlist or album is an individual download icon.

What. A. Shocking. Concept!

Playlist management

I'm something of a playlist snob. I admit it. I've spent hours and hours agonizing over the mix and order of my Disney All Day megamix (opens in new tab), and when I'm getting ready to build a playlist, nothing grind my gears more than Spotify's reticence to allow easy playlist editing on Android, and their insistence on deleting songs from a playlist One. At. A. Time. Play Music at least allows you to edit things fairly easily on the Play Music website (opens in new tab), but you're still stuck doing things one at a time in the app.

Not so on Apple Music.

It's easy to mass delete from playlists, meaning you can add whole albums, delete out what you don't want and go about your business. You can also set custom photos for your playlists right from the app, unlike Spotify, who makes you go to the desktop apps to set custom playlist covers.

Playing search results

If you click on a song in a search result in Apple Music, it plays that song and only that song. It doesn't play that song and then go on to the rest of the search results like Spotify and Google Play. This is amazing because chances are only one of the results in your search is what you actually wanted to hear, so if you hit play in the search results you're going to be scrambling to clear your queue the second that song ends and it goes to music you didn't want to hear.

What else is worth stealing?

What do you want to steal?

If you've ever used Apple Music, what else do you think is worth bringing to other music apps? Are there any old features from iTunes you're still missing these days? I'm still wishing Google Play Music would bring on Smart Playlists so my most-listened-to tracks from that month and all time would be easily accessible, but I'm someone who listens to my favorites over and over and over and over.

What are you missing? What do you want to make the leap to your music service? Tell us in the comments!

Ara Wagoner was a staff writer at Android Central. She themes phones and pokes YouTube Music with a stick. When she's not writing about cases, Chromebooks, or customization, she's wandering around Walt Disney World. If you see her without headphones, RUN. You can follow her on Twitter at @arawagco.

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  • Hands down, the best was Microsoft's Groove. A shame apple people and the rest of the games convinced everyone it wasn't worth trying.
  • Groove was very good. Still use it, as an offline music player. Best is Amazon though. Slacker if you're in the US but that is strictly streaming from what I remember. Been a couple years since I've been home though.
  • Adding tracks to queue by using "Play next" and "up next" is also really cool in Apple Music
  • You can do that in Amazon music. Well play next certainly. Not sure what up next is!
  • "Play Next" is in Google Play Music and Spotify.
  • Here's something Google Play Music should steal... the way album art is displayed on the Now Playing screen!!! I want to see the whole artwork, not have it zoomed and chopped. GPM lost me at the end of the trial because of such poor UI design. The new Audiobooks now playing screen in Google Play Books gets it right... can't GPM just copy it? Same company...
  • Yeah I feel like there's a huge GPM update coming at some point. They've pretty much given up on any UI enhancements for the current version. I mean it's still almost as orange as it was at golive and the album art thing is pretty unacceptable.
  • They've said that Google Play Music and YouTube Music will be combined at some point right?
  • Unlikely. Google will probably release a third and likely fourth option that iterates on Play Music and YouTube Music instead of actually committing to an application and developing it. Want a unified messaging service? Here's 12646 different messengers! Want a unified streaming service? Here's 13454 different streamers! Other than Android, Docs, and Slides, Google's applications aren't very good in this day and age.
  • I'm good with all of Google music, UI needs some options, but my play list and saved music are awesome. Price and family is priceless for the all you can eat. I guess the good thing, never tried apple since the early days and never looked back from a aweful experience.
  • #1 best trick that both Apple Music and Spotify have that Google lacks: a family plan with G Suite accounts.
  • Amazon Music does all those things. Also, why is the Play Music UI so laggy compared to other streaming music apps?
  • The best part of Google Play Music is that I'm not giving any money to Apple.
  • Google Play Music needs to show lyrics on the mobile app. This is such a stupid oversight. And what is worse? My Pixel 2 can detect what songs are playing from other music sources and provides an alert on the notification bar that can be clicked to see the song in the webapp version of Google Play Music that has an option to see lyrics. What is even worse... You can't intentionally go to the webapp of Google Play Music to see the lyrics to my own songs because it will launch the mobile app if you try to navigate to the web browser version. Stupid, stupid, stupid.
  • I agree it is stupid, but for most songs it doesn't take much effort to long-press the home button, as Assistant for lyrics to XXXXX song, then click the Play Music webapp link. But yeah, a lyircs button would be way more freaking helpful that that YouTube button for music videos...
  • People still pay for music lol
  • Hello @GooglePlayMusic is there anyway to break down my thumbs up play list to play by decade? i.e. 70s, 80s, 90s, 2000s, 2010 etc.......
  • This article has it completely wrong. The number 1 thing we need is the ability to SORT THE STUPID PLAYLIST in the app! I see absolutely zero way of sorting by artist/song/date added or anything unless i'm using Play Music on the desktop.
  • Nothing beats Samsung Music Player
  • Rhapsody does all this.... guess its Napster now
  • Hi Ara, is your Pixel set to 320 dpi, or are you just using large fonts? I'm trying to emulate the look on my phone, I dig it.
  • You can download individual songs from your albums in Amazon. I wish the major players had gapless and crossfade. Even my Palm had that in 2001. Power Amp has it, but cannot play GP tracks. Interestingly, Power Amp degrades the quality, even when no EQ is used.
  • I wish there was a way to download individual albums from Apple Music on Android without a monthly subscription. I'm super disappointed in Google Play Music, to me it's trash and i don't want to support it any way.