My three month ‘free’ trial of Apple Music began just over a month ago. Since then, I’ve enjoyed all the conveniences of a modern music streaming service… practically all the music I could ever want, smart recommendations and playlists and a hassle-free way to locally store any album I can think of.
Having heard the Apple Music experience is better if started fresh, I deleted my entire iTunes library (after backing it up for safekeeping, of course) and started by re-downloading all of my previous iTunes Media in the form of Apple Music files. Knowing that I had a vacation trip coming up, I added extra music to my Apple Music library in preparation for the plane flight and for my time at the potential Internet-less resort. Great!
Next step was to download these onto my iPod touch for the trip. This was simple enough, by selecting each artist individually and pressing “Make Available Offline” I was able to get my iPod to download and store locally all 1600 songs now in my Apple Music library.
Time to go on the trip. I fortunately had Wi-Fi at the airport to use, but spent this time listening to Podcasts instead of Music. Why this is relevant, you’ll realise in a minute.
Plane takes off, I pull out my iPod to listen when lo and behold this message pops up:
What? Apple Music is telling me to delete these songs I’d downloaded in preparation for the flight, not only that but to turn off iCloud Music Library. It wanted me to wipe my iPod clean of music. I confirmed in my device settings that the music was, in fact, downloaded onto my iPod. That wasn’t the problem. The problem here was that Apple Music wouldn’t let me play music offline. I don’t know what caused the error - I’d been connected to the Internet only moments ago, so Apple know my account is still active. And yet I can’t play my music. Angrily, I restarted my device in the hope of getting it to work. Still nothing. Giving up, I accept Podcast episodes as my only form of audio entertainment for the flight. Frustrating. Turns out, had I listened to any music whatsoever at the airport with an Internet connection, I would’ve been able to listen on the flight.
No where previously have I heard that Apple Music isn’t available offline. As a new subscriber, this isn’t leaving a very good impression.
Upon landing, I connected to Wi-Fi again and found that I could play all of my music library with no dramas. Investigating this weird situation further I conclude that Apple Music can be listened to offline, but the listening “session” has to be started before you lose connection to the Internet. e.g. If you know you’re going to be offline for a while, start playing a song, pause it, and leave the Music app open. This is a terrible user experience, and I’m not sure what Apple are playing at. Is it a bug? And if it is, how long until Apple fix it? Some luck if you’re out of connection to the Internet for an extended period of time.
Apple Music as a service is still buggy these many months later, and a far cry from the fruit company of old who used to pride itself on products and services which, “just work.” This situation is simply disappointing. It isn’t a terrible problem, as far as problems go, and it’s very first-world, however I still feel as though it’s worthy of being brought to your attention. Hopefully Apple will do something about it in the future, particularly as, going forward, they attempt to convince me to give them money each and every month for this service.