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When it comes to advanced features and seamless compatibility with iOS devices, Apple Music has Spotify well and truly beaten. The Swedish streaming giant has essentially the same content library as Apple and better music discovery algorithms, but Apple Music has the technical edge with support for lossless audio, spatial sound that works in Apple’s super popular earbuds and over-ear headphones, and one of the best features on the market for displaying lyrics.
And now, Apple is revealing yet another ace up its technological sleeve. Apple Music Sing, available later this month, will give subscribers the ability to transform millions of the platform’s most popular songs into lyric-free sing-alongs, all powered by machine intelligence and proprietary processing technology.
Pretty soon, you’ll be able to pretend you’re any of your favorite artists. It’s a nifty trick that will work on newer iPhones and iPads, and on the most recent version of the 4K Apple TV, should you want to have a group sing-along in the living room.
Apple is adding a fader on the playback interface that adjusts the volume of the vocals in any song supported by the new feature. The timing of the lyrics’ display has also been improved.
Folks who already like to use Apple Music’s lyrics experience to sing along to songs for personal enjoyment or social media videos will already be pretty familiar with the look of the updated lyrics feature. It now highlights the lyrics at the exact moment they appear in the songs, and it has the ability to show where background vocal lines are, rather than quickly mashing two sets of back-and-forth lyrics together. There is even a way to put multiple vocalists’ lyrics on each side of the screen, making multi-singer songs even easier to perform together. (Android users will see the new lyrics interface but won’t get the vocal level slider.)
The feature will only work on a subset of the Apple Music catalog right away; the service is focusing on the most popular songs first, then trickling down this tech to less-sung music over time. At launch, Apple Music will showcase 50 dedicated playlists of popular songs you can sing along to, highlighting the examples that best show off its processing skills.
One thing I’d love to see down the line is an update for Apple-made audio production software Logic that allows musicians and labels to add their own lyrics and timing and to create spatial audio tracks. This would let the artists offer their own enhanced experience to listers with Apple-made headphones like the AirPods Max that support spatial audio. A solution like this might lead to quicker adoption of the technology for songs that don’t have a chance of landing on the 50 playlists, which lean heavily on well-known songs. It would be a sort of DIY addition that Apple could plug into its service to help smaller artists and labels take advantage of these features.
Still, for the millions and millions of us who watch Carpool Karaoke, or who like to embarrass (or showcase!) ourselves singing in public with our friends, there really isn’t a better way to do it that I can think of beyond Apple Music Sing. And now that Apple Music Sing will make built-in karaoke a key feature anyone with an iOS device can use, Spotify should really be quaking in its reindeer boots.