iTunes has long had a way of allowing you to rate tracks, applying a rating from one to five stars (or leaving tracks unrated). You can do this from the contextual menu when you right-click on a track, from the Rating sub-menu in the Song menu, or by clicking stars next to a track in various views.
When Apple launched Apple Music, the company introduced a new form of rating: Loves. With this binary rating, you can love a track that you like, or apply no rating to leave it as neutral. The most recent beta version of iTunes 12.5, available as part of the macOS Sierra beta, added dislikes. In addition to loving a track or leaving it unmarked, you can also flag tracks you dislike. So, there are three possibilities: no rating, Love, or Dislike. (Choosing Dislike on a Loved track removes the Loved rating, and vice versa).
In the current beta versions of iTunes 12.5 and iOS 10, by default ratings are nowhere to be seen. If you right-click a track, here’s what the contextual menu displays:
If you want to use star ratings, you need to now check an option in the General preferences: Show: Star Ratings. If not, you won’t see star ratings anywhere but in the Songs View column.
Ratings are totally absent from the iOS 10 Music app, with no option to turn them on. Currently, on iOS 9, you can view a rating or rate a track by tapping its album artwork while it’s playing, but only for tracks in your library; you can’t apply star ratings to Apple Music tracks. Nothing happens in iOS 10 when you tap the artwork. When you tap the … for a playing track, you see a menu which offers Love and Dislike options, but no star ratings.
So, is Apple getting rid of star ratings, or is this just a temporary thing, due to this being beta software? To be fair, it is confusing now to have two systems – stars and Love/Dislike – and the fact that you can’t apply star ratings to Apple Music tracks on iOS suggests that star ratings my be going away. If there’s an option to use them in iTunes, but not in iOS, that becomes confusing.
If they do get rid of star ratings, this will exasperate many users, who have been rating their music collections for a long time, and who use smart playlists to organize their favorite tracks. I hope Apple doesn’t do this; it would be a painful change for many users.