What Does Apple Music's Web Player Do Differently And When Should You Use It

What Does Apple Music's Web Player Do Differently And When Should You Use It

A while ago, Apple released the MusicKit application programming interface that helped third-party hobbyists create their own Apple Music web players. I came across absolute gems like Musish, ThinMusic and FeverTunes which have made great use of the API. And after an extended beta phase, Apple has released its own web player.

Apple Music Web Player featured

You can now use the Apple Music web player, accessible via music.apple.com, to easily stream music from any device. But does that make it any different from the native music app on iPhone and Mac or iTunes on PC? And when should you use it? Let’s find the answers to these questions below.

What Apple Music Web Player Does Differently

Launch the Apple Music web player and you can immediately start playing 30-second clips of over 60 million songs. If you already have an Apple Music subscription, you can listen to full songs and albums by signing in with your Apple ID.

Once connected to the web player, you access your entire library of songs, albums and playlists that you have already added or created using the Music app, iTunes app, or the app Apple Music on iPhone, Mac, PC, or Android.

If you access the Apple Music web player from a desktop, it should look strikingly like the Music app on the Mac and, to a lesser extent, iTunes on the PC. On the left side of the screen, you’ll find the familiar sidebar with the For You, Browse and Radio tabs, as well as your library and playlists.

Apple Music Web Player 1

The web player allows you to manage your library by adding or removing albums and tracks, although the ability to create playlists is missing. You can also like or dislike the songs, which allows you to adjust the Apple Music recommendation algorithm to your liking.

The playback controls are the same as in the Music app and iTunes, where you can mix and repeat songs, go back or forward among tracks, adjust the volume, and more. However, you cannot transform the user interface into a mini-player. The web player does not support live lyrics either, which is a drawback.

Apple Music Web Player 2

On mobile browsers, the Apple Music web player allows you to access your library and playlists via a hamburger menu instead of the tabbed navigation controls of the Music and Apple Music apps on iPhone and Android. However, the playback controls appear at the bottom of the screen, just like on real mobile apps.

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The mobile version of the web player also suffers from the same set of limitations as its desktop counterpart: you cannot create playlists or display live lyrics. And of course: you can’t download tracks in the desktop and mobile versions either.

Apple Music Web Player 3

Apple Music Web Player 4

What about audio quality? I’m not the greatest audiophile, but the songs I play through the Apple Music web player seem slightly lower. By default, the native Music app and iTunes play songs at 256 kbps, so it’s likely that the web player will stream them at 128 kbps or less.

This may be because Apple wants songs to load faster on the web player. But still, an option to manually change the audio quality over faster connections would have been more enjoyable. Third-party Apple Music players such as FeverTunes allow you to stream at 256 kbps.

When should you use the Apple Music web player

To Apple’s credit, the Apple Music web player works well. But being a web app, it seems slow compared to native music apps on iPhone and Mac. However, it works almost on par with iTunes on Windows. I also found that it worked better than the awkward Apple Music app on Android.

The biggest advantage of using the web player is the freedom to listen to music on any device that supports an Internet browser. This means you can also use it on devices that don’t belong to you: just log into the web browser, start streaming, and then log out when done. Additionally, it’s a great way to stream music to platforms (such as Linux) that don’t support a native Apple Music app.

However, it’s difficult to recommend the Apple Music web player on native music apps, or even iTunes on Windows. It cannot create playlists, does not support live lyrics, and its stream-only nature does not allow the use of cellular data on the go. And to make matters worse, the tracks also sound lower without the ability to adjust the audio quality.

Unless you’re having serious issues playing your music with platform-specific Apple Music apps, or want to quickly stream to someone else’s device, I don’t see any reason to use the web player. If you want a better experience playing tracks from a browser, try third-party Apple Music players such as Musish and ThinMusic. Compared to Apple’s web player, they are much better at what they do.


Tired of your Apple Music subscription? Click on the following link to find out how to cancel it on any platform.

Last updated Jul 3, 2020

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