First impressions of Apple Music


IT’S finally here. Apple’s long awaited entry into the music streaming market has launched on your iPhone, Mac or PC with a three month free trial. That gives the company three months to prove to the world that it’s a service worth paying $11.99 a month for.

Anyone with an iPhone can access the service right now if they update their device to iOS 8.4 and open the new Music App. Inside you’ll then be asked to select what you want to sign up to after the three month free trial ends: a single account for $11.99 a month, or family account (up to six people) for $17.99 a month. Make sure you go into your user ID settings and turn off the auto-renewal slider so you don’t get automatically charged in September if you don’t love it.

From there, Apple wants you to help it set up the service so it can best suit your tastes. A bunch of genres pop up in circles which you can pick between to tell Apple Music what you love, what you like and even what you hate. One thing you’ll notice is that Apple really needs to update its genre list, there simply isn’t enough of them. Especially alternative, which includes just about everything that isn’t Keith Urban or Justin Bieber.

These picks form the ‘For You’ section.

These picks form the ‘For You’ section.

Apple badly needs to update its genre sections.

Apple badly needs to update its genre sections. After that, it throws up a bunch of artists it thinks you might like, which you can again pick between love, like and hate to help curate recommended playlists and artists for you to try.

The “For You” section which this creates seemed a bit off for me. While most of my artists I liked were punk or indie bands, I also added I loved Taylor Swift, which because of her country roots populated my list with country playlists. This is despite me saying I don’t like the country genre.

Once you’re past that stage, you then flick between one of the five tabs down the bottom. These include your music, new music, For You, Apple’s new music social network Connect, and Radio.

The interface for it all is really dense — and brilliant. Each page feels like it’s actually full of content, all arranged in tiles that look great and makes it feel like something more than your standard streaming app.

There’s so much packed into it too. Everything from picks from Apple’s music editors to playlists based on activities. Playlists come with a proper description that explain why the artists in it are important and what to expect, rather than simply pinning it with a word or two.

This is what Apple does best, it takes the same things that its competitors offer, works out how it could do it better and executes it perfectly. The design of Apple Music does that — it’s a visually pleasing, intuitive way to listen to and discover new music.

Your music library is now very visual.

Your music library is now very visual.

Apple’s flagship feature, ‘For You’

Apple’s flagship feature, ‘For You’

Apple Music’s social feature Connect still needs to find its feet though. It has potential, but at the moment it kind of just feels like Instagram … if you only followed your favourite artists and never posted photos of your own. But once artists start using it, you can see how it could be a good tool to follow the process of music creation.

The company is also taking a big gamble on radio. Launched this morning, Beats 1 is a 24/7 internet radio station broadcasted worldwide, that actually works like a proper radio station. It’s much more polished than your typical internet radio station, and that’s a big thing when convincing people they should care about radio again. There are internationally renowned DJ’s like Zane Lowe running the show, and regular guest DJs at launch include Elton John, Dr Dre and Pharrell Williams.

But when it comes to a music streaming service, what people want is the most amount of music available at their fingertips right?

Like most other streaming services, Apple Music boasts a library of around 30 million songs. There are some songs missing that the likes of Spotify and Google Play Music has, for me that included Parkway Drive’s latest single Vice Grip and First by the Cold War Kids. On the other hand, it had there 12th Man’s Greatest Hits and Taylor Swift’s 1989 which other services lacked. However, there is the ability to upload songs into iCloud that you own already that are missing to be able to be streamed with the rest of your music library. At launch, you can upload up to 25,000 songs and after the three month free trial that jumps up to 100,000. Google Play Music and Xbox Music are the only other services to offer this type of song locker service.

The Now Playing screen is as simple as ever.

The Now Playing screen is as simple as ever.

Connect is essentially Instagram but just for artists at the moment.

Connect is essentially Instagram but just for artists at the moment. Source: NewsComAu

At $11.99 for a single account, that’s on par with just about every other service in Australia, although Spotify offers half price if you’re a student for its premium offering.

So what’s the verdict? So far, so good. The interface is easily the best of any streaming service around, while the integration into iOS makes it you feel like you own every song and you have 30 million tracks just waiting for you there on your device. It’s a feeling no other streaming service can match, and is a step in the right direction to winning people over from traditional music playback.

Sadly the promised Android support isn’t anywhere to be seen just yet, with an expected release date of this Spring in the US.

Apple Music genuinely feels like your one stop music shop. There’s nothing any service does better, while there are several things Apple Music beats the competition with. This is the real deal, and Apple just might be on to its next music revolution.