six colors

by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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Linked by Jason Snell

Apple Music is probably not deleting your music by itself

There’s an link making the rounds, a story written by an upset iTunes user who claims that Apple Music deleted all the music on his hard drive. I was going to write about this, but Serenity Caldwell did it so I don’t have to:

Apple Music has definite problems and its matching algorithms aren’t great, but this is simply not how the service works. Apple Music should never automatically delete files off your primary Mac’s hard drive unless you specifically delete them first.

While there might be a bug at work that actively deletes files, my guess is that this is more of a case where a user moves his or her files to the Trash without actually realizing it. And my prime suspect is this dialog box:

This could use some work. The default button will remove your tracks from the cloud and move your local files to the trash. The far left button, “Remove Download,” will still throw your tracks in the trash. The term download seems fundamentally wrong here, since it generally suggests an ephemeral nature that’s not the case with that MP3 you ripped from your CD collection five years ago. While the text of the dialog box does spell out what’s going to happen, can we really expect most users to read and understand all of that text before making a decision? “Remove Download” comes across as the opposite of “Delete Song,” when it isn’t. Yes, Cancel is the best option there—but this could be a lot clearer.

Sometimes I think the biggest problem with Apple Music is not its content or its price but its forced integration with existing iTunes libraries. Apple is bad at identifying music that isn’t among the most popular out there, replacing live albums and alternative tracks and sometimes even greatest-hits tracks with different versions. That would be an annoyance (and Apple should really dial back the confidence it has in whatever algorithm is doing that job) if you could tell iCloud Music Library that it was wrong and upload your on-disk version of songs to your library, but you can’t do that. If Apple gets it wrong, you’re just out of luck.

Apple is supposedly making changes to the Music app in iOS 10. I can quibble about the importance of “larger artwork” to the usability of a music app, but the real problems with Apple Music seem to be happening in the cloud.