Apple Music Voice Plan: How Does It Work?

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Apple Music is one of the most popular audio streaming services in the world and it keeps getting better over time. It’s not just limited to Apple devices; You can even use Apple Music on Android smartphones, computers, smart speakers from Amazon or Google, and any web browser. On top of that, the addition of high definition audio streaming with no price hike has made this one of the best-equipped and affordable audio streaming services in India, especially if you have at least one Apple gadget to use it with.

With the new iOS 15.2 update, Apple is now rolling out support for the Apple Music Voice Plan, which is now the cheapest tier of service available. Priced at Rs. 49 per month in India, the Apple Music Voice Plan provides access to the streaming service’s full catalog of over 90 million songs on supported devices, but with one caveat: you have to use voice commands on Siri to request songs or playlists . I had a chance to try it out, and this is how the new Apple Music Voice Plan works.

Apple Music Voice Plan: Price, Free Trial Details

The Apple Music Voice plan was announced worldwide in October 2021 and costs Rs. 49 per month in India. This plan provides access to individual tracks and curated playlists. You get uninterrupted, ad-free streaming, the ability to skip tracks, and more.

Interestingly, you can even try the service for free before subscribing. There is a seven-day free trial that you can activate with just a voice command without entering payment details. You can also get a three month free trial which will be automatically billed after that time using any payment method linked to your Apple account. The most important point to keep in mind is that most of the content can only be accessed with the Voice Plan using voice commands to Siri on a compatible device.

Apple Music Voice Plan: Compatible Devices

The Apple Music Voice Plan works with voice commands to Siri, Apple’s voice assistant for its smartphones and other devices. To subscribe to the Voice Plan or even take advantage of the free trial, you must be using iOS 15.2, iPadOS 15.2, watchOS 8.3, tvOS 15.2, macOS 12.1, or software version 15.2 for HomePod and HomePod mini smart speakers.

Of course, you also need a device with a built-in Siri voice assistant and an internet connection. I’ve tried using voice commands to get songs and playlists on a number of devices including an Apple HomePod mini, Apple iPhone 13, and a CarPlay compatible system with the same connected iPhone. It also works on Apple Watch, AirPods headphones and earphones, Mac computers, and Apple TV streaming devices.

Apple Music Voice Plan: How Does It Work?

I activated the 7-day trial version of the Apple Music Voice Plan on HomePod mini with a simple voice command: “Hey Siri, start my Apple Music Voice trial”. The iPhone, which was linked to the same Apple account as the HomePod mini, showed that I had successfully subscribed to the free trial version and could play tracks and playlists on both the smart speaker and the smartphone.

For subscribers to the Voice Plan, the Apple Music app on each device shows basic recommendations and limited listening history from the Listen Now tab. Some of these tracks and playlists can be played without voice commands, but this list is limited. This is the only part of the experience that doesn’t rely on the voice and doesn’t allow you to search for specific tracks through the app.

The Apple HomePod mini costs Rs. 9,900 in India

The Search tab displays numerous recommendations and suggestions, categorized by genre, mood, and other criteria. However, I was only able to play these tracks or playlists with a voice command on Siri. The catalog is extensive, but the experience largely depends on your telling Apple’s voice assistant how to go about it.

I was able to get almost any track or curated playlist with a voice command. Playing a track is easy and worked fine for me on the HomePod mini and iPhone 13 mini. I was able to play most of the tracks with simple voice commands and Siri does well with the Indian accent and usage preferences. When I requested a single track, Apple Music automatically created a playlist of recommendations based on it to keep playing when it was over.

I could also ask for different playlists by genre, era and artist. This involved somewhat complicated queries like “play happy 80s music” or “play Hindi music with Shah Rukh Khan,” with Siri generally managing to create a decent playlist based on the query.

Since the language is set to English (India), Siri can also take requests in some local languages, but it works best when you speak English. It should be noted that Apple Music features such as track downloads, lossless audio streaming, and spatial audio with Dolby Atmos are not supported in the Voice plan for the time being. Also, you can’t create custom playlists or add songs to your library unless you purchased them through iTunes.

Siri and Apple Music work well with voice commands on supported devices, which will be the key to making the voice plan work. However, the ability to access tracks using just voice commands has its drawbacks. Often times I was unable to play certain remixes or versions of a track, or a remix or cover version was played when I wanted the original.

The longer the name of the track or artist, the longer the command, and this often resulted in Siri slipping and playing the track incorrectly. This would be easily fixed by manually searching for a title by text, but that’s not an option here.

Final thoughts

Apple Music is arguably the best streaming service in India right now thanks to its wide availability, access to high definition and Dolby Atmos tracks, and a huge library that covers a wide range of genres and artists. It’s even cheaper when you are in India, with prices significantly lower than equivalent prices in most world markets. If you already own Apple devices like an iPhone or HomePod mini, subscribing to Apple Music is a breeze.

The Voice plan, despite its limitations in accessing music, is a good addition to the existing options and offers users an affordable entry into premium music streaming. It may make sense for buyers to purchase cheaper iPhone or iPad models, but then again, the custom plan is at Rs. 99 per month (or Rs. 999 per year) is not much more expensive and offers significantly more functionality.

Additionally, an Apple One or Apple Music Family plan is better value for money, especially in India. If you qualify for the student plan, which is also Rs. 49 per month, you get the same features as in the more expensive single plan.

However, the Apple Music Voice Plan could be especially useful if you have a HomePod mini or AirPods headphones that work seamlessly with the Siri voice assistant. It might be worth getting started with before finally making the switch to the Rs. 99 per month single plan or the Rs. 149 per month family plan. It could even be used long term if you are listening through a smart speaker like the HomePod mini most of the time.

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