I have a completely different view. Main reasons for liking 1.8:
The “focus” function which allows multiple filters (“classical” + “Composer =…” + “DSD64”) is now readily available in all screens and on smartphones as well (see point 2)
(as noted in precious responses) Full UI capabilities on smartphone (that is: “focus” function, lyrics, editing …)
Real support of classical music with “composition” etc.
I have not explored the “explore new music” additional functionality (pun intended) so cannot comment there.
I understand the navigation may be more complex as in my experience “flexibility” and “simplification” are often conflicting goals (a point I keep facing at work…)
I do understand though that for those who don’t use smartphones as control points, are not into classical and do not have much use for the focus function the new release might appear cumbersome or even a step back …