The interface is similar to the main Apple Music app, with four bottom tabs for Listen Now, Browse, Library, and Search tabs. The Browse section is divided into three main categories—Catalog, Playlists, and Instruments—which are further segmented into sections for composers, soloists, time period, mood, and much more. Each individual instrument also gets its own section of the app, with the latest releases, popular artists and works, and a full description of its importance to the genre.
In a support document, Apple explains why classical music needs a separate app: “Classical music is different. It has longer and more detailed titles, multiple artists for each work, and hundreds of recordings of well-known pieces. The Apple Music Classical app is designed to support the complex data structure of classical music.”
However, while the app is extremely fast and full of rich details, there are several Apple Music features that aren’t available in Apple Music Classical:
It doesn’t support Apple Music Voice: Subscribers to the cheapest Apple Music subscription will need to upgrade their plan to Student or Individual to get access.
You can’t shuffle songs: The long-standing shuffle feature isn’t available in the Apple Music Classical app.
The full libraries don’t sync: While albums, playlists, and tracks added to your Apple Music Classical library will sync to the main Apple Music app, recordings, works, and composers can only be accessed in Apple Music Classical.
It’s online only: You can’t download music in the Apple Music Classical app, though classical tracks, albums, and playlists can be downloaded using the main Apple Music app.
The library is limited to classical music: The Apple Music Classical library will only show songs from the classical music genre, and you’ll need to hop over to the main Apple Music app to play anything else.
It’s not available everywhere: While Apple Music is available in most countries that offer Apple Music, a few are notable excluded: China, Japan, Korea, Russia, Taiwan, and Turkey
It’s iPhone-only: At launch, the only way to get Apple Music Classical is on the iPhone. So iPad, Mac, Apple Watch, and Android users are out of luck (though you can install the iPhone app on the iPad). However, Apple does say an Android version is coming soon.
Michael Simon has been covering Apple since the iPod was the iWalk. His obsession with technology goes back to his first PC—the IBM Thinkpad with the lift-up keyboard for swapping out the drive. He's still waiting for that to come back in style tbh.