Apple Music in iOS 18 will get a 'smart crossfade' feature to upgrade your playlists

The Apple Music app icon against a red background on an iPhone.
(Image credit: Brett Jordan / Unsplash)

When iOS 18 drops later this year it's going to include a welcome new feature in the Apple Music app: better crossfading. That's when one track merges into another, and while Apple introduced a version of it in iOS 17, it's pretty crude, which seems silly when the OS tries to be so much smarter in other places. Happily, and as previously rumored, the next iOS update will make it much better. (Via PhoneArena)

Crossfading is designed to avoid silence between songs, and it mimics what a DJ does – albeit more like a radio DJ than a dance music one. The new, smarter version in iOS 18 can reportedly analyze songs and then choose the most appropriate crossfade setting, so if a song is designed to stop abruptly for impact the new feature won't override that, whereas if the current song is fading out then Apple Music will start bringing the next track up.

How to use Smart Crossfade in Apple Music

The new Smart Crossfade feature is an enhancement to the existing Crossfade option, and once again it lives in Settings > Music: it's just below the Sound Check option and in iOS 18 it has a toggle switch to turn Crossfade on and off as well as a slider to adjust how long you want your crossfades to last. You can adjust the slider from 1 second to 12 seconds.

The same feature is also coming to Apple Music in macOS 15 Sequoia, although in the betas so far it's been labelled as "smart song transitions"; the interface is slightly different, so instead of the Crossfade toggle there's a "Song Transitions" drop-down where Smart is an option. However it has the same 1 to 12 second slider as the iOS 17 and 18 Crossfade settings.

Smart Crossfade is a feature you'll often see in music app users' wish lists, and not just on Apple Music, so this is likely to be a welcome improvement. And like the current Crossfade, it shouldn't affect how you experience albums: it can understand that you're listening to consecutive album tracks and won't try to interfere with the gaps between those tracks. It seems that it'll just jump in if you're in a playlist, listening to a Station, or have queued up a range of music.

So far there's no indication that the same feature is coming to the Apple Music app for Android, though this already does things slightly differently: the choice on Android for crossfading is automatic, manual or off. 

iOS 18 is likely to launch in September 2024, alongside the iPhone 16.

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Carrie Marshall

Writer, broadcaster, musician and kitchen gadget obsessive Carrie Marshall has been writing about tech since 1998, contributing sage advice and odd opinions to all kinds of magazines and websites as well as writing more than a dozen books. Her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, is on sale now and her next book, about pop music, is out in 2025. She is the singer in Glaswegian rock band Unquiet Mind.