Apple has announced three new colors for its HomePod mini smart speaker: blue, yellow, and orange. The new colors are available immediately, and join the existing white and space gray for a total of five color options.
But new HomePod mini colors isn’t the only audio announcement Apple made in its “Unleashed” event on October 18. There’s also a brand new Apple Music tier that’s half the price of the individual plan.
The $5 Apple Music Voice Plan
Apple Music has always distinguished itself from other music services, particularly its rival Spotify, by not offering a free ad-supported tier. You have to pay at least $9.99 a month for an individual plan, $14.99 per month for a Family plan, or subscribe through the Apple One services bundle.
Now, Apple is adding a new more affordable option. The Voice Plan costs $4.99 a month and is meant to be used with Siri as your only means of starting up new music. Apple will offer a free trial that you can start entirely with Siri, by saying “Hey Siri, start my Apple Music Voice trial.”
Using Siri, you’ll have access to the entire Apple Music catalog of 90 million songs, playlists, genre stations, and radio. You’ll get the algorithmic personalized playlists like Chill Mix, New Music Mix, and Get Up! Mix, too, but you will probably not be able to create and save your own custom playlist.
To that end, Apple is adding hundreds of new mood and activity playlists optimized just for voice. You’ll be able to say “Play something chill” or “Play the dinner party playlist,” for example. Apple Music already has many such playlists, but with a whole plan built around Siri voice control, it needs to have hundreds more.
Apple Music’s new $4.99 Voice Plan will be available later this fall in 17 countries: Australia, Austria, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Spain, Taiwan, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
What you don’t get with the Voice Plan
If you subscribe to the Voice Plan and you open the Apple Music app, you’ll get a “customized in-app experience with suggestions based on the listener’s music preferences and a queue of recently played music through Siri.” Apple says users will have “full music controls including unlimited song skipping through Siri,” so it’s unclear which standard playback features you’ll be able to control with your device and which you’ll need to use Siri for.
In addition to missing out on the full app experience, with the ability to browse the whole catalog and create custom playlists, Voice Plan users will miss out on a few other premium features. They won’t get Spatial Audio or Lossless Audio, can’t see lyrics, and can’t watch music videos.
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