As fate would have it, Apple isn’t actually allowing users to set a default music app on their iPhone with iOS 14.5. The iOS 14.5 beta was released back in February, and shortly after it came out, some users were quick to notice that Siri allowed them to set a default music app when asking to play a song or podcast. As expected, this got a lot of people rather excited.
One of the biggest changes with iOS 14 is the ability to set default applications for a user’s web browser and email client. For example, instead of website and email links always opening up in Safari and Apple Mail, these can be changed to any other web browser or email app that supports the feature. It’s something that Android users have benefitted from for years, and with that iOS 14.5 beta dropping last month, it looked like default app support would soon be coming to music applications.
Following further clarification from Apple, however, that’s not the case. While Siri does ask users which music app they prefer when they tell the assistant to play a song or album, this is just for Siri’s own knowledge. Even if a user tells Siri they prefer listening to music on Spotify or Pandora, Apple Music is still considered the “default” music app. Unlike setting a default web browser or email app, there’s no option in the settings to set a default application for playing music.
Furthermore, Apple says that this new Siri feature extends beyond music. Siri will also ask users which app they prefer listening to audiobooks and podcasts on, ensuring that the digital assistant opens the preferred app depending on what it’s asked to play. If someone listens to music on Spotify, podcasts on Pocket Casts, and audiobooks on Audible, Siri should be able to open the correct app based on what type of audio is being requested.
While this may not be what some iPhone users were hoping for, it should still be a nice addition to have in day-to-day use. Asking Siri to play music without explicitly naming a music app currently defaults it trying to use Apple Music, and for anyone that doesn’t subscribe to Apple Music, that’s not exactly helpful. There’s not much benefit here for folks that don’t already use Siri, but for those that do, at least there’s now a better understanding of what this feature can (and can’t) do.
The introduction of default apps in iOS 14 was a considerable step towards Apple being more open with how iOS can be used, and while this news might be seen as a move backward, who knows what could change with future iOS updates. iOS 15 will be here in just a few months, and with that, Apple could change its tune yet again and allow default music apps in a more official manner. For now, though, this is as good as it’s going to get.