Apple's Music App Duet: The New Classical App Is Cool, but I Have a Few Notes

Commentary: Apple made something smart. It could get classical music fans to switch from Spotify.

Bridget Carey Principal Video Producer
Bridget Carey is an award-winning reporter who helps you level-up your life -- while having a good time geeking out. Her exclusive CNET videos get you behind the scenes as she covers new trends, experiences and quirky gadgets. Her weekly video show, "One More Thing," explores what's new in the world of Apple and what's to come. She started as a reporter at The Miami Herald with syndicated newspaper columns for product reviews and social media advice. Now she's a mom who also stays on top of toy industry trends and robots. (Kids love robots.)
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  • Bridget has spent over 18 years as a consumer tech reporter, hosting daily tech news shows and writing syndicated newspaper columns. She's often a guest on national radio and television stations, including ABC, CBS, CNBC and NBC.
Bridget Carey
3 min read

You don't need to be a music expert to enjoy Apple's new classical app. But you will need to learn how to dance between two different apps. 

This week, Apple brought order to a messy metadata problem. The company launched Apple Music Classical, a new streaming app that presents classical libraries intelligently, and offers curated playlists and editor picks to discover and browse through 5 million classical tracks, spanning multiple eras and styles -- including modern works and film scores.

If you subscribe to Apple Music, you can use Apple Music Classical -- but only on iPhone for now, with an Android version in the works. The two Apple Music apps have some crossover, but the interface isn't exactly the same.

I explain how it works in this week's episode of One More Thing, embedded above. I walk you through the notable features, what I found fun, and what I hope to see updated in the next version. 


Curation is key when there are hundreds of versions of the same song. If you don't know where to start, Editor's Choice and Popular Recordings will guide you.


I don't consider myself an expert, but I do appreciate classical and instrumental music, especially while I work. And in just a few days of casual browsing, I've found a number of enjoyable playlists that don't come off stuffy. The key for me is curation, and how Apple's team makes a number of programming picks to let a novice just jump in, learn and listen without having to think too much about it. 

Yet there is some dissonance if you're jumping between the two apps. Apple's voice assistant Siri only works with the main Apple Music app. So if you talk to your HomePod to play music, it won't pull up tracks from the Classical app. 

The Classical app also doesn't work on iPad or Mac yet. And you can't download a song inside Classical -- but as I explain in the video, there is a workaround by making a playlist, and then accessing that playlist in the main Music app.

Why are there two apps? Because the interface needed to sort through classical music is different from how streaming apps handle other genres. Apple has over 490 recordings of Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 5. Think of how it would be if you needed to sort through 490 covers of a Taylor Swift song to find the recording you like -- and what if each song of hers were broken up into three or four different movements? Labeling and curation matters to make sense of it all. 

Apple's Classical app didn't just appear out of the Blue Danube. In 2021, Apple acquired Primephonic, an app that aimed to also solve the classical streaming problem with better data and organization -- and Apple used Primephonic's previous work to spin out its own version. 

It's exciting to see Apple put work into making better ways of finding and listening to classical music. I hope it continues putting resources into it to make the two apps even more harmonious, expand ways to listen and to have it work with Siri. It's things like this that could get classical fans on Spotify to switch to Apple Music.