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Tuesday, 18 August 2015

The Review | Apple Music

A new beginning? 

Apple Music was launched on June 30th this year in over 100 countries worldwide as part of the release of iOS 8.4. It was hyped as being the long awaited "Spotify-killer" that would bring some much needed competition to the music streaming market.

The idea is simple. Apple Music aims to combine it's infamous library of millions of songs with an internet radio service entitled Beats 1, which is curated 24 hours a day by some of the hottest DJs around the world including Zane Lowe, Ebro Darden and Julie Adenuga. All of this content is available for $9.99 per month and is billed straight from your Apple account.

Apple Music vs. Spotify

I've been an avid user of Spotify for a number of years now, so clearly I was interested in what Apple could bring to the table in terms of a music streaming service. More specifically, what could the silicon valley tech giant possibly bring to the market that was innovative here? Apple have unbeliveably done just that. Don't get me wrong, Spotify is an incredible service and works almost perfectly with synced playlists across a variety of platforms and devices but they simply can't compete with the breadth of the iTunes music catalogue.

Aside from having pretty much the entire iTunes library available to stream wherever and whenever you like, Apple Music also includes several levels of curation that have enabled me to discover new tracks and completely new artists - something that the Spotify experience just never invited me to do. The "For you" tab within the app analyses the tracks you stream and recommends new artists that match the genres you listen to most. Moreover, the app curates entire playlists of songs for you to enjoy and store for later. This for me just takes music streaming to another level.

Beats 1

I was initially quite apprehensive and the Beats 1 worldwide internet radio service. I don't normally listen to radio at home or in the car so why would this change my habits? I was also worried about what kind of tracks would be played because the service aims to provide listeners with a variety of music across lots of genres. I've been pleasantly surprised by the quality of the programming and now find myself listening to Beats 1 both at home on my laptop and also on the go during my morning commute. Again, this is another level of curation that no other service is currently able to even come close to. There's so much scope here for several version of the Beats 1 service that could cover a variety of genres and shows. I never thought I'd be excited for the future of internet radio in 2015.

The Verdict

Apple music really is a powerful new candidate when it comes to music streaming and internet radio. Is it perfect? Absolutely not. The user experience is sometimes confusing especially on the Mac but then this is very much a version 1 for the app across all devices. With a few tweaks across the board this is certainly a compelling option for those looking to stream millions of songs for fixed and competitive monthly fee. 

If you're transitioning from Spotify then Apple certainly hasn't made it an easy experience, which is something they definitely need to work on. If you've spent years creating playlists for every eventuality in Spotify then there's currently no easy way to transfer those across to Apple Music. The 3 month free trial is a great taster and I for one will certainly be continuing with my subscription long after the end of September. 


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