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These third-party apps will supercharge your Apple Music experience

Customize Apple Music the way you want

A young person smiles with arms outstretched while holding a smartphone. Credit: Getty Images / Strelciuc Dumitru

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There's a lot to love about Apple Music. It works great on all your Apple devices (with decent cross-platform support), it offers hi-fi audio, and it's also a bit more privacy-focused than other apps. That said, it still falls behind Spotify, Napster, and other music apps on several fronts, namely algorithmic recommendations. Thankfully, the App Store has a robust ecosystem of third-party Apple Music apps that can supercharge the experience with nicer interfaces, better recommendations, and even some fresh functions you may not have come across on Spotify. Here are our favorites.

Albums

Credit: Reviewed / Joanna Nelius

Even if you prefer listening to music by album, rather than by playlist, it can be difficult to keep track of every album you've saved to your growing streaming library. Albums is an app dedicated to sorting your library by record, rather than by artist, song, or playlist. It pulls all the albums you've saved in your library into the app and lets you tap on each one to either play it, tag it for granular organization, view more from the artist, or view your listening stats for that record.

A lot of that is locked under a $2 per month premium subscription, though. That’s not much, but if you don't want to subscribe, you can still use the app to shuffle your library by album rather than by song. It’s a nice way to rediscover old gems or finally listen to that album from a few years back that you've been meaning to get to.

Marvis Pro

Credit: Reviewed / Joanna Nelius

Marvis Pro is a better-looking reskin of the Apple Music app) and it's a more powerful version of Apple's app. For instance, you can drag songs or albums down to the Now Playing bar to add them to your queue, rather than having to add them through a bunch of taps like you do in the Apple Music app.

Additionally, Apple Music's recommendations take a while to get a feel for your taste (Pro tip: the more songs you "Love" on Apple Music, the better the recs get). While you wait for that to happen, the algorithmic home screen provided by Apple can feel a little stale since there’s no cool album art to fill it. But Marvis Pro's home screen is totally customizable, and you can add as many sections as you'd like in any arrangement that works for you.

There are sections for recently played songs or albums, songs you've "Loved," songs you haven't played in a while, Apple Music recommendations, top charts, and search. You can build it out however you want, and the ability to plug directly into some of Apple Music's recommendations means you won't be missing out on much from the main app. Though, you can always jump back to the main app for more recs, since Marvis needs it installed to access your library.

You can also use Marvis to get details about songs and albums in your library, filter playlists, and songs based on a variety of custom rules, create custom grid views of playlists and albums, scrobble (or track) songs you listen to in Last.fm, and add a five-star rating (Apple Music only allows you to "Love" songs). My favorite feature is its ability to shuffle all the songs in all your playlists, which comes in handy when I don't know what to listen to and just want to sift through everything I've saved over the years with just a couple of taps.

Miximum

Credit: Reviewed / Joanna Nelius

If you need a long mix of music to accompany you on a long road trip, or you just like blending your sources together, Miximum gives you a way to blend playlists and albums in your library into unique mixes using a combination of powerful filters and rules.

To create a mix, you simply select any number of sources, which can be all songs in your library or any given playlist you've built or followed. (You can also exclude sources.) After you've selected your sources, you can create a number of rules for the app to filter all your sources. So, if you have ten 80s playlists you want to combine into a decade mega-mix, you could add a rule to not duplicate any given artist to avoid too much repetition. You can even create rules to exclude songs you haven't "Loved" on Apple Music if you only want to play the hits.

MusicSmart

Credit: Reviewed / Joanna Nelius

If you miss the days of flipping through the booklets that came with your favorite CDs to find all the credits, MusicSmart can help you scratch that itch without having to jump to Wikipedia. MusicSmart works through iOS's Share Sheet, so you trigger it by hitting the little three-dot menu next to an album or song on Apple Music, then selecting "Share."

Selecting "View details with MusicSmart" will show you a description of the song, writing, and production credits, as well as credits for every instrument on the track. It'll even show you if other songs have sampled the track you're playing and if anyone's made a cover of the song. There's also a section to take you straight to the music video on YouTube, and a section for all sources used to pull the data.

You can also view album information directly within the app if you’ve saved them in your library, though there aren't many sorting options if you have a big library. There's also a music recognition feature, which acts like a beefed-up Shazam that'll pull up all those nitty-gritty details about the song that was on the tip of your tongue.

MusicHarbor

Credit: Reviewed / Joanna Nelius

Ideally, there would be a way to automatically get notified every time a new album from your favorite artist drops on Apple Music. Unfortunately, that hasn't been baked into the app quite yet. There is, however, Musicharbor, an app by indie developer Marcos Tanaka that can help you stay on top of the latest music.

With either your Spotify or Apple Music account, you can sync all the artists in your streaming library to MusicHarbor (or input them manually if you want a more curated selection) and get notified whenever they release new music.

There's also an option to follow a record label if you're a fan of the stuff they support and want to discover new artists that way.

Musicbox

Credit: Reviewed / Joanna Nelius

Sometimes you come across an album you want to come back to mid-jam-session. I used to manage this by having a "To Listen" folder of playlists on Spotify, but that was clunky and I don't use Spotify anymore.

Until recently, there wasn't an app for that, but Marcos Tanaka's new app Musicbox solves precisely this problem. Think of it like Instapaper for your music library: Any time you come across an album that seems interesting but can't listen to at the moment, you can drop it into MusicBox and save it for later.

Once you've added an album, you can add tags to organize albums by things like year, album-length, genre, or who recommended the album to you. You can also view a decent amount of album metadata from within MusicBox, though MusicSmart is better for the finer details.

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