TL;DR: Apple revealed that a feature in iOS 14.5 that testers thought was used to set a default music player is actually a machine learning algorithm that helps Siri learn your media playback preferences. The company clarifies that there is no setting option for selecting a default media player.
Last month beta testers found that Apple had added a feature to iOS 14.5 allowing users to change the default music app, Apple Music, to any other third-party app they had installed. However, this does not appear to be the case.
On Friday, Apple cleared up some confusion regarding reports that iPhone users would be able to change their default music app in iOS 14.5. It says users cannot change the default player because there is no settings entry for that like there is for email and browser apps.
Instead, the feature is part of Siri's machine-learning algorithms. Apple told TechCrunch that when using Siri to playback content, it will ask you what app to use and "learn" your player preferences based on the media type.
For example, maybe you like to use Spotify to listen to music but want to use the native Books app to listen to audiobooks. Siri will attempt to "remember" these preferences and use the appropriate app without asking. However, as it is learning, it might ask again when presented with a similar but slightly different request, which is why Apple wanted to clarify that this was not the same as setting a default.
The distinction is important but does not change the ultimate outcome. Siri will, over time, learn which players you like to use for different types of content and will launch them without having to ask. Siri's eventual behavior is nearly identical to setting a default player but on an even more granular level.
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