Apple Music’s algorithms are great at serving up playlists and recommendations tailored just for you based on your listening history. But sometimes you may want to take a break from your usual music tastes and explore something new without messing up those cherished recommendations. That’s where Apple’s new Listening History Focus Filters come in. With just a few taps, you can pause your listening history and prevent anything you play during that time from influencing your personalized Apple Music experience.
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An Introduction to Apple Music’s Listening History
Ever wonder how Apple Music seems to know you so well? How it always serves up daily mixes and suggestions so perfectly suited to your musical tastes? This is all thanks to Apple Music’s listening history.
The service keeps track of every song, album, artist, playlist, and station you listen to. All this data is used to build a taste profile unique to you. The more you use Apple Music, the better it gets at understanding your preferences.
This listening history is what powers key Apple Music features like:
- Personalized playlists – Such as your Daily Mixes and other customized playlists like New Music Mix and Favorites Mix. These evolve as your tastes change.
- Suggestions – Such as Made for You playlists and albums. Apple Music recommends content based on your recent listening behavior.
- Search results – Even your search results in Apple Music are ordered based on your preferences.
- Browse tabs – Sections like Listen Now and Browse are personalized to highlight music Apple thinks you’ll like.
For many users, this customized experience is what makes Apple Music so great. But it can also start to feel limiting if you find yourself only recommended music from the same genres and artists.
The Problem with Getting Stuck in a Music Rut
Listening history being used to personalize your experience is usually a good thing. But it can also lead to problems like:
- Narrowing music discovery – When Apple Music thinks you only like one kind of music, that’s mostly what it will recommend. This makes discovering new genres and artists challenging.
- Killing the element of surprise – Over time, your daily playlists become very predictable when derived from a limited taste profile. The sense of discovery fades.
- Mood ruts – Maybe you’ve been listening to a lot of melancholy indie folk lately and want to mix it up with something more upbeat. If Apple Music thinks sad songs are your thing, escaping that mood rut can be tough.
- Privacy concerns – While Apple promises they don’t actually save your listening data, some users understandably don’t like the idea of any app tracking their listening behavior at all.
The common thread is loss of control. You may want to dictate your own music journey from time to time, rather than letting Apple Music’s algorithms call the shots.
So how can you seize back control of your listening experience whenever you want? That’s where Listening History Focus Filters come in…
Introducing Listening History Focus Filters
With iOS 17.2 and macOS Alice, Apple has introduced a powerful new tool for controlling what does or does not influence your listening history.
Listening History Focus Filters give you the option to pause your listening history on demand. Any music you play while a focus filter is active will not be recorded to your history and will not impact Apple Music’s personalized recommendations.
This lets you:
- Explore new genres without confusing Apple Music’s recommendations.
- Listen to music to match a mood without shifting all your personalized playlists to that mood.
- Avoid spoiling daily playlists you look forward to with too much new music.
- Take listening side quests down rabbit holes you may not want influencing your main experience.
- Protect your privacy by not having certain listening sessions tracked at all.
It puts you back in the driver’s seat!
How Listening History Focus Filters Work
Listening History Focus Filters are implemented through a new Music option found in iOS and macOS Focus modes. Here’s how it works:
- You create a custom Focus mode in Settings.
- When creating your custom Focus, under the Music option you toggle off “Use Listening History.”
- You activate that Focus mode whenever you want to pause your Apple Music listening history.
- Any music played while that Focus is on will not be logged to your history or impact recommendations.
- Turn the Focus off and your listening history will start being recorded again as normal.
It’s that simple!
Focus modes were originally introduced to help users manage notifications and distractions. Now with Listening History Filters, Focus takes on an exciting new role – curating your personalized Apple Music experience.
Step-by-Step Guide to Setting Up a Listening History Focus
Ready to start creating Focuses to filter your listening history? Here is a step-by-step guide:
On iPhone and iPad
- Open the Settings app.
- Tap “Focus.”
- Tap the + icon in the top right corner to create a new Focus.
- Give your Focus a name and select an icon/color (for quick identification later).
- On the next page, tap “Customize Focus…”
- Under “Focus Filters” tap the switch next to “Music” to enable it.
- Make sure “Use Listening History” is disabled (toggle is gray and to the left).
- Tap “Done” in the top right.
You’ve now created a Focus that will filter your listening history! You can create as many custom Focuses for different filtering scenarios as you’d like.
- Click the Control Center icon in the menu bar.
- Click “Focus” in the Control Center.
- Click the + button at the bottom of the Focuses list.
- Give your Focus a name and icon/color.
- In the Music section, uncheck “Use Listening History.”
- Click “Done” to save changes.
That’s all there is to it! Now when you want to prevent music from being logged, enable that Focus.
Activating Your Listening History Focus
Once you’ve created a Focus with Music listening history disabled, using it is easy:
- Open Control Center and long press on the Focus button.
- This will bring up a list of your Focuses to choose from.
- Tap the Focus you want to activate.
- Open Control Center and click the Focus button.
- Choose the desired Focus from the menu.
You’ll see your selected Focus activate. The Music equalizer icon will also change to indicate listening history is now paused. Feel free to play whatever music you want and it will not influence your taste profile or Apple Music recommendations!
Ideas for Using Listening History Focus Filters
Here are just a few ideas of how you could take advantage of listening history filters:
- Discover new genres – Turn on a Focus before exploring a new genre like K-pop or country, so it doesn’t overwhelm your recommendations.
- Control moods – Create Focuses like “Upbeat” and “Chill” so you can match music to mindset without shifting your taste profile.
- Keep daily mixes fresh – Block new listening before your daily drive, workouts or study sessions so those activities get their own playlists.
- Private listening – Stop any tracking of private listening sessions by having a Focus on.
- Clean listening palate – Reset your history completely by having a Focus on for a set period of time.
The options are wide open. Listen without limits!
A Whole New Level of Music Personalization
Apple Music’s algorithms already do an impressive job tailoring music to you. But Listening History Focus Filters allow your music experience to be personalized even further under your exact control.
Whether you want to steadily improve recommendations or just take a temporary listening detour, Focus filters put the power in your hands.
So go discover some new-to-you artists, enjoy listening to match a mood, revisit old favorites – all without worry about how it may shift Apple Music’s understanding of your music taste.
Listening History Focus Filters allow personalized music discovery, mood matching, and memory reliving. All while preventing your history from being tracked. It’s the best of all worlds!
What will your first listening quest be with your newfound Apple Music listening freedom? The possibilities are endless.
- Apple Music uses your listening history to personalize playlists, recommendations, and search results.
- This can sometimes make music discovery feel narrow or predictable.
- New Listening History Focus Filters allow you to pause tracking your listening history on demand.
- Music played while a Focus Filter is on does not affect your Apple Music profile.
- You can create Focuses in iOS 17.2+ and macOS Alice+ that disable listening history.
- Activate a Focus when you want more control over your Apple Music experience.
- Listening History Focus Filters offer a whole new level of music personalization power!
Table Showing Focus Filter Options
|Do Not Disturb||No notifications will be received|
|Driving||Lock screen will be simplified for easy use while driving|
|Reading||Disables distractions and optimizes device for reading|
|Gaming||Disables notifications and optimizes device performance for gaming|
|Working Out||Disables distractions and enables fitness tracking apps|
|Mindfulness||Optimizes sounds and apps for focus and reflection|
|Sleeping||Enables sleep tracking apps and mutes all sounds|
|Custom||Custom selection of app/notification filters|