Apple has introduced a new, cheaper tier for its music streaming service, called Apple Music Voice. This differs from the normal Apple Music subscription as it centres on using Siri as the way to control playback and other interactions.

So, is it worth switching to this cheaper alternative? Here's our comparison of Apple Music and Apple Music Voice.

What is Apple Music Voice?

Announced in October 2021, but not launched until December 2021, the Apple Music Voice plan is a cheaper way to gain access to the full Apple Music catalogue of over 90 million songs.

At around half the price of a standard Apple Music subscription, it lets you play tracks, albums, radio stations and Apple's own playlists just by asking Siri.  

There are some limitations that account for the lower price though, as we'll outline below.

How much does Apple Music cost?

Apple offers several options for its Apple Music service, ranging from the single-user Voice Plan, up to the Family package that includes accounts for up to six people. Here's how much each one will set you back every month:

There is no free version of Apple Music - unlike Spotify which offers an ad-supported free version. However, you can get free trials, so you can try Apple Music out before committing to a subscription. See How to get Apple Music for free. You can also cancel your Apple Music subscription at any time.

Get a free trial of Apple Music here.

Which devices work with Apple Music and Voice Plan?

Apple Music Voice Plan will only work on devices that have the Siri digital assistant, since that is how you control what is played. This rules out Android and Windows devices, plus any other smart TV or speaker that isn't made by Apple.

So, if you have one of the following devices it can play Apple Music Voice Plan:

  • Apple TV
  • Mac (running macOS 12.1 or later)
  • iPhone (running iOS 15.2 or later)
  • iPad (running iOS 15.2 or later)
  • Apple Watch
  • AirPods
  • HomePod or HomePod mini
  • CarPlay

If you have other devices then the original Apple Music plan might be a better option as it also works with some non-Apple devices including: 

  • PC (via iTunes)
  • Android (via the Android Apple Music app)
  • Sonos 
  • Amazon Echo devices
  • PlayStation 5

Is all music available on the Apple Music plans?

There are more than 90 million tracks on Apple Music and Apple has confirmed that all of these tracks are also available to Voice Plan users too.

Can listen to Apple Music offline?

If you have Apple Music you can download tracks to listen to offline.

Unfortunately Apple Music Voice Plan is a streaming-only service, so you will need to be online. You can't download tracks unfortunately.

Can I create playlists?

Again, only a full Apple Music subscription supports this feature. You won't be able to create your own playlists on Apple Music Voice Plan.

However, you do have access to thousands of playlists put together by Apple, and these can be called up using casual language such as "Hey Siri, play me some music for sleeping" which will give you a peaceful selection of tracks.

There's a list of commands you can use to get Siri to play music here: What to ask Siri.

How the Apple Music interfaces differ

With Apple Music you get the full layout, including Listen Now, Radio, Library and Search tabs available along the bottom of the screen. This means you can controlled everything via taps, rather than just using your voice. You can use this interface to add songs to playlists, organise your Up Next queue, and view song lyrics while a tune is playing.

Apple Music Voice Plan is designed to be used via Siri, so some of the above features are missing. For instance, while you can voice search for tracks and albums, a track will only play if you instruct Siri play it. This can be a little confusing, because, while you can ask Siri to search for an album and then open it so you can view the contents on your device (assuming it has a screen), you can't tap to play it - you have to ask Siri to do so.

Nor will the Voice Plan allow you to move songs up and down your Up Next queue. Lyrics are also absent from the Voice Plan.

The biggest problem with relying on your voice to control Siri is that Siri doesn't always understand what you say, and there is so much room for error when you consider that there are numerous tracks that share the same name. So expect things to be hit and miss!

Apple Music vs Apple Music Voice: HomePod

It feels like Apple Music Voice could be an excellent option for those who use HomePods as their Apple Music device. The lack of offline modes and creating playlists isn't really a factor here, and the voice controls already work well on that platform.

However, if you prefer a more literal hands-on approach, then the standard Apple Music subscription is the way to go.

How good is the sound quality?

Both Apple Music and Apple Music Voice Plan stream audio at 256 kbp/s, but this is the highest offered on the latter (probably as it's streaming only).

With the original version Apple Music you can also access Lossless audio, which is higher quality, plus it also supports Spatial Audio with Dolby Atmos.

In truth, unless you're an audiophile or have very good headphones, you might not notice too much of a difference, but in short Apple Music offers higher quality audio than Apple Music Voice.

Should I use Apple Music or Apple Music Voice?

Apple Music Voice Plan is a curious service. It acts similarly to the free Spotify tier, in that you can only stream music rather than download tracks, although Spotify includes ads whereas you pay for Apple Music Voice.

As we said earlier, Voice feels more suited to the casual listener that wants to access music via a HomePod or HomePod mini.

For those who prefer creating their own playlists, being able to add and remove tracks from their queues, need offline access to their songs, want higher quality audio, songs lyrics, and not to mention the ability to use the app on a non-Apple device, then the full Apple Music subscription is the one to choose.   

If you're hoping to save money on your monthly subscriptions, then it may be worth looking at Apple One, which combines several of Apple's services (Apple TV+, Apple Fitness, Apple Arcade, Apple Music, Apple News+ and iCloud+) into one reduced monthly price.

Of course, Apple doesn't have a monopoly on music streaming, so it's well worth your while reading our Apple Music vs Spotify and Apple Music vs Amazon Prime Music comparisons to see what's on offer on the other side of the fence.