Apple could be on the verge of launching a classical music streaming app, after lines of code in the Apple Music beta for Android revealed a potential name: Apple Classical.
The lines of code were discovered by 9to5Mac, which says that they reveal the ability to open a compatible track directly in the optimized service that will specifically cater for classical music – unlike Apple Music, which covers a broad range of genres.
As 9to5Mac says, the code hints at possible future features, but that “Google may not ever ship these features, and our interpretation of what they are may be imperfect”.
As such, a beta version of an app isn’t always a guarantee that it will be released, but we already knew that Apple was planning to launch a standalone app for classical music. In 2021, the tech giant bough classical music streaming app Primephonic, and said that it plans to offer Apple Music subscribers Primephonic playlists and exclusive audio content.
According to a press release from the tech giant, classical music fans with Apple music will get “the best features from Primephonic”, including the ability to search by composer and repertoire, and more detailed classical music metadata.
We might not have too long to wait to find out whether these lines of code really do correspond to Apple’s classical music app. It’s rumored that the next Apple event will take place on March 8, when it will show off the iPhone SE 3, the iPad Air 5, and perhaps even a new Mac. Apple is yet to confirm this rumor, but Bloomberg cited “people with knowledge of the matter” in its report on the event.
It’s also possible that we’ll see the AirPods Pro 2 at the next Apple event – though this is less likely, as all the rumors we’ve heard are pointing to a late 2022 release date for the company’s next noise-cancelling earbuds.
Analysis: Why does Apple need a classical music app?
There’s a huge amount of classical music available to stream on Apple Music already, so you may be wondering why the company would bother creating an entire standalone service for one music genre.
Searching for classical music on a streaming service is a little more complicated than other genres of music. Works can be recorded by hundreds of different orchestras or musicians, making it difficult to find the exact recording you want – and if Apple Classical does make it easier to search by composer, repertoire, and other bits of metadata, the user experience will be hugely improved.
There’s also the fact that older classical works are categorized in a different way to other genres. The repertoires of many composers is catalogued via the opus numbering system, which allows individual compositions to be identified – however, this system is far from universal, with lots of composers only using it for some of their work. Some, like Massenet, used ‘Opus 12B’ instead of ‘Opus 13’ due to superstitions around the number 13, while many 20th century composers have ignored the system altogether.
Then you have individual composers who were so prolific that they were given their own cataloguing system. Mozart’s compositions are ordered according to the Köchel catalogue, with each work given its own K-number.
The lack of a universal way to search for classical music presents an issue for streaming services that want to make music discovery as simple as possible for its users – and the long titles that result from using the Opus system don’t exactly lend themselves to mobile streaming. For example, this is what you see if you want to play an album of Mozart’s Haffner and Jupiter symphonies:
That’s a lot of numbers to navigate – and that could be incredibly off-putting to a classical music novice dipping their toes into the genre for the first time.
That’s not to say that the entire experience of classical music search on Apple Music is bad. On the contrary, the Classical section of the app is well-curated, with playlists from different eras, artists, and instruments, with options to listening in Spatial Audio for a super-immersive experience.
Apple can do better though, and its purchase of Primephonic will help its music streaming service cater to a wider audience. So far, Apple has revamped its radio services with Apple One, appeased audiophiles with support for lossless audio, launched a cheaper voice-only service for Siri users, and offered an alternative service to those looking to leave Spotify.
Apple Classical is just the next step in Apple Music’s quest for sonic domination – and if it’s comprehensive enough to make such a wide and complicated genre accessible, it could just eclipse Spotify and become the best music streaming service on the planet.