Apple kicked off its Apple Unleashed Event coverage by letting the world know that a new Apple Music plan was coming – the Voice Plan.
Half the price of the standard Apple Music plan, it’s designed for those that like to use Siri to command their Apple devices (although how many people that really is remains to be seen).
However, contained within that description is something rather mysterious – what does Voice Plan really mean? What music can you listen to? What are you losing by skipping half the price?
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Apple Music Voice Plan – how will it work?
So what will you get? Basically, Siri is your own personal DJ, allowing you to ask it to play you things wherever you can talk to the personal assistant.
You’ll be able to ask for more things in terms of the types of music you’re after – not just ‘hit music’ or ‘country songs’, but ‘dinner party playlist’ or ‘music for hiking’ will be enabled.
You’ll be able to skip through songs using Siri, and the artwork used suggests you’ll be able to tap the screen to jump through – although we’ve not had that last point confirmed by Apple.
The key thing revolves around what’s meant by ‘Siri’: we all interpret that as the voice assistant only, but you’re also able to see the songs that have been played recently, as well as listener recommendations. This sounds like there will be more functionality within the Apple Music app, but it’s yet to be confirmed.
What is clear though, is that the Apple Music Voice Plan is not designed for those that like to spend hours curating their own playlists, using all the advanced features of the streaming service – it’s designed for you to ask Siri to play a certain category of music, and let the virtual assistant do the hard work for you.
How is the Apple Music Voice Plan different from the standard subscription?
Well, this is where it gets a little confusing. The features you’re losing are pretty clear: no lyrics, ability to download songs for offline playback, no downloading of Apple Radio shows, Spatial Audio and Lossless playback are both missing... and you won’t be able to see what your friends are listening to.
You also can’t create your own playlists to listen to later, which makes sense if you can’t actually type anything into the app itself – it’s all done by voice. You could, in theory, have said ‘Hey Siri, add this song to my “Dead Good Jamz” playlist’ but that’s not on offer here.
Apple Music Voice Plan release date
When will you be able to sign up to the Apple Music Voice Plan? Well, the website currently says ‘Coming soon’, and we’ve not been able to get a more definitive answer than ‘later this fall’.
We’d expect that to mean some time in November which, coincidentally, is when the new colors for the HomePod Mini will be released.
It will land in 17 countries, which are: Australia, Austria, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Spain, Taiwan, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
Apple Music Voice Plan price
This one’s a little simpler: it will cost $4.99 / £4.99 / AU$5.99 per month, which is half the price of the standard Apple Music plan, and a third of the cost of the Family plan.
If you want to sign up, you’ll need to do it through the Apple Music App, or you can just ask ‘Hey Siri, start my Apple Music Voice trial’, where you’ll get seven days’ music without it automatically renewing.
Apple Music Voice plan – which devices will it work on?
While the new plan will work on any Siri-enabled device, it’s really meant for those walking with a pair of AirPods or Beats headphones connected to an iPhone, or for anyone buying a HomePod Mini.
It just halved the ‘tax’ on that latter product, with it now costing 50% less to get the most out of the tiny speaker by combining it with Apple Music – although it’s surprising that Apple isn’t bundling a large amount of its Music service with each purchase of a HomePod Mini, as that would surely be a no-brainer to continue when users are in the habit of regularly playing new music with their voices.