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This $1 iTunes alternative does what $2.4 trillion company for some reason cannot do

The Cider App on Windows 11 streaming Apple Music

It is no secret that Apple Music is not the best streaming service for Windows users. iTunes is an old, clunky, critically outdated software, and the web-based player is no better. Apparently, making a decent app for Windows is just too much to ask from Apple, a small company worth $2.4 billion trillion.

While we wait for Apple to distract its software engineers from pushing more ads into iOS, third-party developers deliver much better alternatives for iTunes and the web-based Apple Music player. Behold Cider—an open-source and cross-platform Apple Music client that could make you forget about the upcoming Apple Music app for Windows.

The Cider app for Apple Music on Windows

Disclaimer: Although the app is fully open-source, you should always mind the potential risks of using your Apple ID or Microsoft account in unofficial software.

The Cider app (beta) lets you access and stream Apple Music and Podcasts (no offline support or local files for now). It offers a beautiful, responsive, macOS-like design with many personalization options (extra points for Mica support). More importantly, the app supports most Apple Music features—playlists, collections, radio, iOS-like lyrics mode, animated album covers, and more.

The Cider app for Apple Music on Windows

Unfortunately, Cider does not support lossless and spatial audio. However, there are built-in audio-enhancing features and a "spatializing" effect. These tools are unlikely to delight hardcore audiophiles (who probably do not use Apple Music in the first place), but my limited time with the app showed that the optimizers indeed enhance the perceived audio quality. At the end of the day, it all depends on what headphones or speakers you use. If you do not like how those optimizers work, a regular equalizer is here for manual tuning.

Audio settings in the Cider app

Other noteworthy features in the Cider app include remote control from your phone or tablet, AirPlay and Chromecast support, Karaoke Mode, a compact player, and support for external themes and plugins. In a nutshell, the Cider app is an iTunes without its worst parts, plus a lot of extra neat features.

As for the bugs and performance, there is nothing major to complain about. I did experience one or two minor slowdowns (after all, it is an Electron-based project that is also in beta), but they are nothing compared to the official apps from Apple. A slow launch is probably the only thing I can complain about.

The Cider app for Apple Music on Windows

Cider is available in the Microsoft Store for $0.99 (50% off right now). You can also get it from GitHub and winget. It is also worth noting that Cider is not all about Windows—the app is also available on Linux and macOS.

Note: the app was purchased by myself for personal use, and the developers had no input in this article.

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