Apple Pumps Up Music Features in Next Versions of iOS, iPadOS and MacOS

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At Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference Monday, the company announced new features for streaming and sharing music on iPhones, iPads and Mac computers. On Wednesday, Apple provided more details on its upcoming music offerings and disclosed even more music features not mentioned at WWDC.

Read more: WWDC 2023 Biggest Reveals

Apple has always made it easy to play and share music across its devices, and the next versions of the company’s operating systems for iPhones, iPads and Mac computers will expand those features for cars, hotels and personal connections. A new AirDrop feature will let iOS users easily kick off shared listening experiences (as well as easily share contact info), and AirPlay and CarPlay will both make it easier for Apple users to stream and share music when traveling.

Read on to learn all about the new music features coming to your Apple devices. For more from WWDC, check out everything new in iOS 17 and the new gaming mode for MacOS.

New AirDrop features in iOS 17 will let you share music easily

An update to iOS for iPhones will soon add a new phone gesture for launching an AirDrop, Apple’s Bluetooth-based system for secure personal sharing. Now users will only need to “bump” their devices by bringing them close together to initiate an AirDrop and share contact info or other files.

The new AirDrop functionality will make it easier for Apple users to kick off shared experiences as well. Bumping devices will also enable starting SharePlay, which lets two people listen to the same music or watch the same movie simultaneously. 

At the WWDC event, Senior Vice President of Software Engineering Craig Federighi gave the example of two people running together who bump their phones to start listening to the same music at the same time. Similarly, two friends at a coffee shop could bump phones to watch the same video stream together.

Collaborative Playlists will let friends create shared music sets

a picture of an iPhone showing Game Night collaborative playlist with four participants

Collaborative Playlists will make it easier to create and react to shared music.

Apple

One of the biggest upcoming Apple Music features not announced at WWDC is a new Collaborative Playlist option. Coming this fall, Apple Music subscribers will be able to invite friends and family to join group playlists. Participants can select, edit and order songs in the shared playlist, or add emojis to specific tracks.

Apple didn’t provide many details about how Collaborative Playlists will work, but an image in the company’s press release indicates that playlist participants will see their profile pictures associated with the songs they selected, with a button at the top of the app for adding or removing people from the playlist.

CarPlay will make it easier to share music on road trips 

Apple also showed off the integration of SharePlay with CarPlay, which will make it possible for everyone in the car to contribute to a road-trip playlist without passing a phone around. If you’re running CarPlay and using Apple Music, everyone in the car with an iPhone should be able to join your share and add songs to the playlist. 

On Wednesday, Apple provided a few more details about how SharePlay will work in cars. When people in a car are listening to Apple Music, other trusted iPhones in the car will be prompted to join the session. Participants can then control the music with their own devices, and they won’t need an Apple Music subscription to do so.

AirPlay will let you play music and movies on hotel devices

Apple announced an upcoming partnership with hotels to allow iPhone, iPad and Mac users to stream music and movies directly to hotel devices. While the most obvious use of AirPlay in hotels will be playing your movies and TV shows on the big screen, you’ll also probably be able to stream music to the hotel TV for a stereo music experience that doesn’t require headphones.

Pairing your Apple device with the hotel’s will be as simple as scanning a QR code. According to the WWDC announcement, “AirPlay will be available in select hotels before the end of the year.”

AirPlay will also soon learn your favorite music preferences

Along with the new streaming options for music in hotels and cars, Apple AirPlay is set to start learning your listening preferences and adapting to them. iPhones and iPads will soon use “on-device intelligence” to analyze your listening habits and adjust playback suggestions accordingly.

In the example provided at WWDC, someone who always listens to music while cooking dinner would be prompted to stream their music via a kitchen HomePod speaker during the usual time for food preparation.

You’ll also soon be able to initiate an AirPlay session using Siri and your Apple HomePod, letting you control the music playing at home with only your voice.

Other new audio features coming to Apple devices

Sharing and streaming music more easily were the main audio features announced at WWDC, but there were a few other minor announcements that could improve the listening experience for AirPods, iPhones and iPads.

First, a new iOS diary app called Journal will use curated information from your device — such as photos, music and location — to create personalized prompts for your journaling. You’ll soon be able to simply tap a song on your Apple device to add it to your Journal entry.

Apple also plans to add new playback features to Apple Music, including the ability to crossfade songs and display full-screen animated album art when it’s available. The app will add new artist features as well, such as new song credits that will provide details about all of the musicians and contributors involved in the recording.

Finally, Apple AirPods will soon add a new feature called “adaptive audio,” which dynamically tweaks volume and noise cancellation based on what you’re listening to and the sounds around you. A personalized volume system will also adjust your sound based on your listening preferences over time.

Read more: AirPods Getting a Cool New Feature That Sony Earbuds Already Have

For more on Apple’s WWDC 2023, check out all the new features coming to the Apple Watch with WatchOS 10 and our hands-on impressions of the biggest MacBook Air ever.

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Expert tech and gaming writer, blending computer science expertise