A Lifestyle, Grooming And Technology Blog

This time of year is always HUGE for new video game releases! With Christmas fast approaching, game publishers are always keen to get their latest and greatest in the hands of gamers around the world as soon as possible, with a lot of us having a Christmas wishlist full of the latest releases.

I've picked up a couple of new games over the past few weeks, one of which is surely a no brainer for Game Of The Year. Even if you're not a huge video game addict like myself, you've surely heard of this one. So here's a quick look at what I've been playing recently...

Red Dead Redemption 2

I could probably write an entire post about my admiration for this game. I took a day off work to play it when it came out a few weeks ago and literally played it non stop for the first weekend I had it. Red Dead Redemption 2 is a prequel to the original Red Dead that came out almost 10 years ago now for the Xbox 360, and oh man have Rockstar Games been working their magic during that time to make this game a true masterpiece.

You can spend the first chapter marveling at the snow effects and drawing rude pictures by walking about but at some point you have to hit the story which involves riding on horse a bit (you have to hold a button to follow while they give you the story) , shoot a bit and then go back to camp. Repeat this a few times and you're on to chapter 2 where the game opens up into. Well more of the same, just less snow.

Now there are issues, just look at the endless YouTube rants and discussion to see that! Too slow paced, clunky controls, the character is slow, not as good as the first. Some of these comments are true but only to a point! Yes, it is a first slow but that’s story and character building. Anyone used to the current crop of twitch shooters and the hand holding and your character possessing the superhuman abilities of the Assassin’s Creed games will find Arthur lumbering. Controls can be fiddly but patience and a little time in the controls will help. But the key thing here is Arthur feels, well, real! He’s heavy and human and feels like flesh and bone and he fits his world perfectly.

The world itself is vast, being substantially larger than the original (even though it features the top half of the first game, anyway). It varies from alligator-invested swamps to open plains, from an industrialised city to farming commutnies, from mountain peaks to snow-carpeted wilderness; in terms of location, this game simply has it all. And the story takes you to a large amount of the map in an organic way, which is not only relevant to the story, but also gives you a chance to explore different areas out of your own leisure. The light effects are beautiful, especially when the dying light of sundown dapples through the arms of trees. The sound effects add to the immersive world too, with crisp sound quality that makes it again seem more than a video game. Rockstar’s attention to detail is the greatest achievement in video game history as of so far. Even rockstar themselves may not be able to surpass what they have achieved with this game. I play on an Xbox one X and on a 4K TV, and in Native 4K, this game is beyond stunning. Many times (more than I dare to admit), I was staring out into the game’s world in awe. I was simply left with pure wonder at how a game could look, feel and sound so real.

NPCs will carry on with whatever they’re doing or saying whether you’re there to witness it or not. Encounters happen frequently, meaning long horse journeys to and from locations are not mundane or lacking excitement. Rival gangs will ambush you or be up to no good within your proximity. Citizens will ask for your help or try to rob you. So much can happen that you almost can never predict when something will; that’s what keeps it fresh after countless hours of play.

You can pick up Red Dead Redemption 2 on Amazon here 

Overwatch - Game of The Year Edition

Overwatch has now been out for well over a year but I recently decided to pick up the Game of The Year Edition as it came with some cool extras including free loot boxes and an exclusive character skin. This is online only, so you will need an Xbox Live subscription to play. If you don't know what Overwatch is about it is basically a Team vs Team of various game types, and is usually more fun with friends. If you love competitive gameplay you'll enjoy this. It often does start to bore me after awhile due to its repetition, so I will often end up after 2-3hrs sticking in a RPG or something. You will find that you will get better as you play more, and you will start to learn what chararcters suit you most {I personally prefer Soldier, Tracer, Sombra, Hanzo and Widowmaker}, but for a casual gamer you will die, rage and sigh but cheer and feel a great accomplishment when you get your first kill, then your ten and so forth. Obviously not all players play fair, some games will test your patience.

There's a huge amount of variety on offer when it comes to heroes and the unique abilities that they bring to game play. You'll certainly find your favourites but all of them have some cool abilities that can counter those of other heroes. It's super competitive but if you're a casual gamer just looking for something that you can pick up and play then no fear as there's plenty of unranked modes that enable you to hone your skills before taking on some seriously high level players in the ranked match making. If you are up for a challenge then the leveling system on offer here is super rewarding, and offers periodic cosmetic items that can help you show off your level, but importantly never impacts the core gameplay by giving you overpowered weapons or characters. Everything on offer is purely cosmetic. 

The iPhone XS and XS Max have arrived, and I thought i'd do some first impressions of the model that I opted to pre-order, pending a full review in a few weeks time once i've spent alot more time with it. I went for the XS in space grey with the 256GB storage option. I'm still puzzled as to why Apple has felt the need to add the 512GB option this year - that's massive! I know not everyone pays for additional iCloud storage for all your photos but that still seems excessive unless you want to own every game in the App Store.

Anyway, this year's iPhone refresh is the usual S upgrade that Apple makes every other year in it's development cycle. That means on the surface if you're coming from last year's iPhone X you'd probably struggle to notice any difference in the design of the XS - Apple have even made the call to remove the 'S' branding from the back of the phone so it's just the new gold finish that will make it obvious you're carrying around the shiny new model.

The flagship features of the X like the bezel-less display and Face ID are all still here on the 2018 devices so if you're upgrading from anything other that last year's phone then you're getting some pretty sweet new tech. Face ID has even been improved to make unlocking your phone up to 20% faster, and even from my first few hours of use I can really see the difference. Annoyingly it still doesn't work when the phone is horizontal, which is a shame, but new with iOS 12 you can add a second face to your device so that either someone else can have access using Face ID or it's super helpful if you happen to wear glasses. You can save a speckled and non-speckled version of yourself for easy unlocks.

Spoiler alert: The people who bought the iPhone X last year were either constant early adopters or eager to upgrade then so they wouldn't have to wait until now. They'll either automatically get an XS as part of one of those increasingly common annual upgrade programs or they'll just keep on keeping on until they need the next something new. They know that. Based on how iPhone XS was introduced as a new iPhone X, not an all-new iPhone, Apple knows that. It's just the rest of us nerds who have to get better at remembering it.

Performance is just a little smoother too, thanks to the new A12 Bionic chipset tucked away inside the XS and it's chunkier brother the XS Max. Apps launch a little faster here than on the iPhone X, and in general, jumping in and out of running apps in the multitasking view is speedier as well. When it comes to this sort of mundane use, the changes are noticeable but not dramatically so -- that is, unless you're coming from an older iPhone. In that case, you're in for a ride. Apple says the A12's two high-performance cores are up to 15 percent faster than the CPU cores in last year's iPhones.

Full review coming soon!

Podcasts have certainly made a massive comeback over the past couple of years, with tens of thousands of them now available across a wide variety of platforms. Hosted by everyone these days from your favourite bloggers  to politicians and footballers, there's so much choice and you're bound to find a podcast to suit you. I can completely understand the fascination with them nowadays thanks to Apple creating a standalone Podcasts app in 2014 as part of iOS 8, which really put this rather stale platform right back under the noses of millions of users around the world.

I thought I'd share a couple of the podcasts I'm addicted to right now..

Wrestle Me

If you're a fan of WWE or wrestling in general then this weekly podcast really is a must listen. It's hosted by two guys, Pete and Mark, but only one of them has been a life long fan of WWE and really understands the sport whereas the other host is brand new to it. The weekly shows are basically reviews of each Wrestlemania event since the early 1980s and filled with hilarious comments and trivia about the history of the "Showcase of the immortals". A fascinating look into the world of pro wrestling whilst hearing a perspective of someone who has previously been on the outside looking in.  A really enjoyable show with well researched background info on some of the biggest names in WWE, as wells some of it's little known jobbers. Check it out here

Stephen Fry's Great Leap Years

Now this is a brand new podcast that only actually launched a week or so ago but you need to download it RIGHT NOW. Hosted by the wonderful Stephen Fry, these incredible hour long episodes dive into some of the inventions that have changed the world over the past 400 years or so. I won't ruin too much but the first episode delves into the dawn of language and written text. The depth and detail of the research that Fry and the team have clearly conducted is breathtaking. You're sure to learn a lot here. It's a really insightful listen and the perfect way to spend a morning commute.

How I Built This

Now this is my current podcast obsession. The How I Built This series has actually been running for a couple of years now but I only recently discovered it and have listened to literally hundreds of episodes already. It's basically a series of interviews with the creators of some of the worlds most recognisable and respected brands. Inspirational listening for anyone running a small business or dreams of making it big. Some of my favourite episodes include the fascinating stories behind Dyson, Toms, Instagram and AirBnB. It's incredible listening to the entrepreneurs behind some of the world's biggest businesses, who often started out broke in their college dorm rooms, describe their journey to making hugely successful brands. Give it a listen you really won't regret it, and if anything you'll probably arrive at work feeling inspired!

What are some of your favourite podcasts?

My last Let's Play was one of the most popular posts I've ever done so I thought why not do another one and tell you about the games I've been playing so far this year. There haven't been any big new releases yet in 2018 so I actually picked these games up before Christmas during the Black Friday sales and got a couple of really good bargains. Enjoy!

Assassin's Creed Origins

First up is a game I've been obsessed with over the past few weeks and certainly one of my games of the year for 2017 - Assassin's Creed Origins. I've been a fan of the series for a long time but fell out of love with it over the past few iterations, but buy has this got me right back into the franchise! Set in ancient Egypt, your character is on the hunt for revenge and discovers the secrets of the Pyramids and the desert along the way. Amazing game, great combat and visuals with amazing RPG elements this time around. In terms of reinventing a stale formula, Origins knocks the franchise's previous entries out of the part. A beautiful, huge open world populated by realistic characters and interesting events around every corner. A must buy for any gamer.

You can pick it up on Amazon here.

Destiny 2

Now this next game has caused a huge amount of outcry from fans of the original who say it's just a copy and paste of the first game with a somewhat boring story mode this time around. Destiny 2 has truly split the gaming community. There are those who loved the addictive multiplayer and futuristic weaponry from the original game and are happy for more of the same, but then the other side of the argument is that is this really worth £50 for what feels like DLC more than a fully fledged game?

I sit firmly in the first camp and believe this is a stand out game that feels far more polished and better executed than Destiny 1. Players will notice immediately that the storyline has been given much more focus which is nice to see since this was one of the biggest complaints about the first game. So far the stability has been good for me, in around 30 hours of play time I've only been kicked off 3 times. The gameplay is just as good as ever and there are a whole host of minor improvements which will really please veterans of the original Destiny.

The campaign is brilliant but a little short, that is not a criticism though as it's such a tiny part of the game, the real bulk of the game is working your way up to the current level cap of 300 and getting good enough to complete the raid, past level 265 progress is slow but there is still so much to do. I have to admit I'm slightly addicted and can see myself racking up many, many hours on Destiny 2!

You can pick it up on Amazon here. 

Call of Duty WW2

Fans have been waiting for this game for what feels like 5 years. Boots on the ground COD in a world war 2 setting has been what fans of the franchise have been asking for for a long time now and we've finally got it. The new Call of Duty is a vastly different game from previous iterations that have been set in a futuristic world with jet packs and crazy weapons (think Destiny 2) but now the franchise has gone back to it's roots with this gritty WW11 thriller of a game. The campaign is short but very respectively presented whilst putting the player right into the boots of soldiers on both sides of the war.

Some of the better moments of the campaign I felt were around the stealth aspects including a tense level of spying in the German headquarters in Paris. Trying to return a child blended both the gameplay and cut scenes brilliantly to make you feel like part of an action scene that had some emotional weight. Even supplying ammo to frontline soldiers in the Ardennes forest was welcomed as a change of pace from the run-and-gun moments that you see plenty of (albeit in a hand-held way).

Multiplayer has followed suit with Destiny by having a community ‘lobby’ where you can equip your soldier, test weapons, prestige your class, take up daily and weekly orders – there’s bloody loads of stuff! At first it can seem daunting as there are lots of things you need to do and the game itself doesn’t do a great job at helping you to get started. There are so many things going on at once – daily orders, weekly orders, weapon upgrade tasks, player upgrades, perks, ribbons, appearance unlocks it can be a headache to navigate especially as there are so many menus to go across and the UI isn’t the best. It took me ages to find some features and in the end I had to just google ‘How do I…” and I found the answers. I’m not in a hurry to get the most badass class going so I am taking my time with a lot of the things and I feel I enjoy it more, the game can feel a little pressuring on some of the options as there are time restrictions to achieve objectives from a week down to 30 minutes for some. A lot of the rewards are either coins or loot crates.

You can pick it up from Amazon here. 

What games have you picked up recently? I'd love to get your recommendations on what to play next.

2017 marks the 10th anniversary for Apple's flagship smartphone, and this year's model is shaping up to be an exciting upgrade if the rumors are to be believed. Last year's effort, the iPhone 7, was widely regarded as a bit of a 'meh' update with little more than a few under the hood upgrades to the camera and home button functionality, plus the addition of new black colour options - although let's not take too much away from Apple as it was still their best selling iPhone ever!

The big news this year though is that the iPhone 8 (or 10th Anniversary as it's more commonly called) is rumored to include a long-awaited feature that competitors such as Samsung have been using for a year or so now - Wireless charging! Fed up of carrying around those pesky lightening cables and untangling them? This could be the perfect solution for you.

The concept image below also imagines a new 5.5" OLED display with no bezels around the edge that would include an IP68 waterproof rating meaning that you could theoretically leave your precious device in a full bath tub overnight and it would be undamaged.. although I'll let you try that one out for yourself.

It's also been reported that Apple will likely remove the home button area of the device entirely and instead allow Touch ID login straight from the OLED display - effectively the same idea as the Touch Bar from the new Macbook Pro. Perhaps this added real estate could be used for app-specific dynamic controls? Very handy.

The only turn off about these new rumours surrounding the iPhone 8 and wireless charging is that it's been suggested that Apple would not include the charging pad in the box with the device - it would be an added accessory. So that begs the questions would you really want to pay almost £1,000 for a brand new shiny iPhone only to find that to use it's latest and greatest new feature you have to spend another couple of hundred pounds?! Own goal there Apple.

What are your thoughts? Would you consider an upgrade to the iPhone 8 just based on wireless charging? It's a fantastic gimmic but I feel as if people will just up carrying around even more cumbersome charging pads rather than lightening cables, which doesn't really feel like a step forward to me.


Finally, after over 3 years the Apple TV has received a much needed extensive hardware & UI update. This time around Apple has signalled that the end is now for traditional TV channels and that the future is apps.

Joining the updated little black box beneath your TV set is a neat new remote control that utilises both touch and voice with the help of Siri functionality. It consists of just 6 buttons that are used for the basics like volume controls and menus options. The star of the show here is the touch screen technology that enables you to swipe around the user interface and simply tap to delve into an app - a very similar experience to the newer Macbook Pro trackpads. This consistency between devices continues on the home screen of the new Apple TV, which has been refreshed with a much similar yet  colourful look - something similar to the latest version of iTunes on PC or Mac. The new interface shares the same UI and UX cues as iOS 9 and OS X El Capitan. From the font to the images, everything looks modern — yet familiar.

I've never invested in any of the previous generations of the Apple TV purely because i've only really seen it as a way to stream content that I already own via iTunes or watch TV shows and other video content via basic apps like Netflix & YouTube. I purchased a new 4K Smart TV earlier on this year, which has all of that functionality so why would I need a separate set top box to stream said content? 

When Apple announced the new Apple TV at an event on Sept 9th this year, the factor that changed my mind was the idea of gaming and shopping on the device. I have to say I'm very impressed with the results! Although there aren't currently a huge number of apps in these categories to choose from, there are certainly some real stars including Crossy Road and Airbnb. If you've got a big TV then this is certainly the perfect way to shop and play games. For years, developers have wanted to build and sell apps on Apple TV and now they can with the addition of tvOS. I'm sure we can expect a huge number of apps to flood the new Apple TV before the year is out. 

One of the few downsides to the Apple TV is the process by which you sign in to various apps and services. For some odd reason the device doesn't remember you're log in credentials for apps such as YouTube, which requires you to sign in with both the e-mail address and password - easier said than done with the new Siri remote. This seems lazy from Apple - they've already got all my log in info linked with my Apple ID so just use it here like they would across iPhone/iPad/Mac etc. ?

The Verdict

The Apple TV has a starting price of £129 for the 32GB option, which means it's certainly not cheap when compared to competitors like Amazon Fire or Chromecast that are half the price. If you're already part of Apple's ecosystem it makes sense to pay the premium and go with the Apple TV, however if you already have a smart TV with a breadth of interesting apps then I wouldn't bother with the upgrade this time around.

I've had the new iPhone 6s Plus for just over a month now right from launch day so I thought it was time to give my impressions after a my first few weeks using the device as my daily driver. My previous iPhone was last year's iPhone 6 in space grey. This is the first time I've opted for the "Plus' version of an iPhone and I'm so glad I did! Within 10-15 mins of switching from my 4.7" display on the 6 to the massive 5.5" 6s Plus I was already completely sold. 

The iPhone 6s Plus mirrors the pricing model of it's 2014 predecessor, which means you could spend between £619 - £789 on the phone depending on your choice of storage options. Here's where my first issue with the device appears - why on Earth are Apple still making 16GB iPhones?! With apps regularly topping 1GB and the newly arrived 4K video files taking up twice as much storage space as regular HD video, it feels like Apple are still trying to keep their base price model without offering power users or storage hungry consumers a 256GB capacity option. 

I went for the 64GB storage option this time around and haven't run into to many issues yet it terms of the device filling up but then I don't tend to store a huge amount of data on the device itself, opting for Apple's own iCloud monthly storage plan instead.

There's no doubt that 3D Touch is the stand out feature from this year's iPhone. The clever screen technology has previously been found in the Apple Watch and the track pad of the new MacBook Pro. It enables the new iPhones to recognize the level of pressure you're applying to the display, and react differently depending on how much force you're using.

At launch, 3D Touch felt like a gimmicky addition to this year's iPhone with very few developers having had time to build the tech into their apps prior to the devices hitting shelves. It was only a handful of Apple's stock apps that utilised the ability to launch specific elements of apps from the home screen so the experience felt very disjointed.

However, just over a month later I'm pleased to say that thousands more apps have now have 3D Touch capability including Facebook, Twitter, and Bloglovin to name but a few. It now feels as if 3D Touch could well become the next pinch to zoom or swipe feature that iOS users around the world now use on a daily basis. It feels so fluid jumping right into the selfie mode within the camera or launch right into a new tweet straight from the home screen!

Apple claims the new 64-bit A9 offering is 70% faster than its predecessor at CPU tasks, while it bests graphically intensive GPU tasks by a whopping 90%. Those claims aren't exactly noticeable right off the bat when doing every day tasks like browsing the web or messaging but as developers learn to take advantage of the new power under the hood I imagine we've not yet even scratched the surface of what the device is capable of.

The Verdict 

Apple has reinvigorated its phablet without rewriting the playbook thanks to its smart 3D Touch technology and a more power under the hood. It's not the upgrade some will have been hoping for, but it's unexpected hit features and continued best in class camera optics make this the best smartphone of 2015.

As I'm writing this post, the September 9th Apple event has just come to a close. Were all the industry rumours that have been spreading their way across the past few months proved correct? Mostly yes, but there were several surprises - read on to find out more...

Here's a summary of today's key announcements:
  • iPhone 6s & 6s Plus unveiled and launching Friday 25th Sept. Available for pre-order from this Saturday 12th Sept.
  • Apple TV receives a monumental hardware & software update. Launching late October of this year.
  • 12.9" iPad Pro announced with innovative new accessories including Apple Pencil and keyboard. Launching November of this year.
  • iOS 9 and Watch OS2 available publicly from September 16th.
  • OSX El Capitan set for public release on September 30th.

iPhone 6s & 6s Plus

Let's start with what Apple calls "The world's most popular smartphone". This was always going to be the highlight of today's event and it certainly didn't disappoint! The brand new iPhone 6s & 6 Plus is faster, smarter and takes even more incredible photos and video. Also, check out this new rose gold colour option...

The biggest innovation here (and trust me there are lots considering this is an 'S' model) is the introduction of a cool new feature called 3D Touch. This is basically an evolution of Apple's multi-touch technology, which has been present in the iPhone since the beginning way back in 2007. 

Features like Peek and Pop allow you to get a look into your apps straight from the home screen. This includes getting a peek at unread e-mail and messages, as well as checking in on Facebook or getting a quick view of your location in the maps application. So simple but some real time savers here for power users and the general public alike. More details here 

Both the front and rear facing cameras have also seen considerable upgrades with 12 megapixels on the back and 5 megapixels up front, which should make for some better high def FaceTime calls. A new feature called Live Photos also creates photos that move when you press down on the screen - effectively a fancy .gif that can also be used on your lock screen. Check it out here

Storage options and pricing remains the same as the previous generations, plus the addition of the brand new rose gold colour option which looks great. The iPhone 6s starts from $529 and is available for pre-order at apple.com from Saturday 12th September. 

Apple TV

This is big, and I mean very big for TV. In fact, Apple is launching its' new TV device with the strap line "The future of television" and they might just be right. For less than $200 you'll be able to get your hands on the new Apple TV in November. It's primary functions are streaming video content from your iTunes library and online services including Netflix and Now TV. However, the device now doubles as a full fledged games console with titles on the way such as Crossy Road and the new instalment from the Guitar Hero Series.

The introduction of an iOS-style app store enables social networking applications such as Facebook and Youtube to find their way into your living room. Plus, there's all kinds of other app categories like shopping, new, and sports. You'll be able to start watching a movie on the commute home, then carry on the experience straight on your TV when you get home. Awesome! Further details here

Another Apple event is upon us. This year's September gathering of Apple execs and media reporters is rumoured to be one of their biggest in years, filled with various announcements and product launches from all areas of the Apple eco system. The most dependable reports are suggesting the launch of the next iPhone (likely called the iPhone 6s & 6s Plus), but also a very long overdue update to the Apple TV, the long rumoured iPad Pro and a hint at what's to come for the Apple Watch in Watch OS2. Where to begin?!

iPhone 6s & 6s Plus

The "S" generation of iPhone that Apple has launched over the past couple of years has largely been about under the hood spec updates rather than a complete design overhaul. We can therefore expect a new model that looks almost exactly the same as the iPhone 6 - but better. 

There's various rumours regarding Apple's flagship device, most notably the arrival of Force Touch for iPhone. If you're lucky enough to own the Apple Watch then you'll already be able to appreciate this astonishing piece of tech. It's basically a touchscreen that can detect the difference between a simple tap and a deep press. Useless I hear you say, but hang on. It's designed to save you time in all kinds of situations around the device. Actions like adding songs to a playlist or getting directions home could be a lot easier to perform. Just wait till developers get their hands on this stuff - exciting third-party app updates coming soon no doubt!

Other rumoured updates for the iPhone 6s includes a brand new 12 megapixel camera capable of filming 4K video. This would be a fantastic boost as I've found the camera has always been something that's lagged behind the competition over the past few years. An improved front facing camera will also provide less pixelated FaceTime calls - nice!

Apple TV

This is a biggy. It feels like years since there's been much of an upgrade to the Apple TV. It's also an area in which Apple has been seriously lagging in terms of content recently. With the success of video streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Instant Video, it's understandable why Apple would want to up it's game in this product category.

Get ready for a fresh new design, more on-board storage options, and most importantly a refreshed UI with touch-sensitive remote control. Rumours suggest an iPod Touch-like experience here. With HomeKit products starting to arrive on the scene, it's likely that Apple wants your TV experience to be the basis for all the goings on in your home. Apple TV is a product that's never really interested me. Why would I need a device used primarily for streaming content I already own on iTunes? I've got my Macbook for that. Movie streaming subscription? Gaming? Who knows but it's sure to be a massive focus of the event. 

Watch OS2

If you splashed out like I did and bought yourself a shiny new Apple Watch then you know you it's been a slightly rocky road so far. There's no doubt it's a beautiful device but the user experience doesn't quite seem as instantly familiar as Apple's other products. There's so many restrictions and confusion around what you can and can't do without your trusty iPhone nearby and an OS that seems to be struggling under the weight of all that data syncing over bluetooth. Well that leads nicely on to Watch OS2.

We've already seen a preview of OS2 at a WWDC back in June, but now we'll finally be able to get a hold of the update in person. The release date will likely coincide with the launch of the refreshed iPhone - probably Friday Sept 18th. There's some nice new time-lapse watch faces, which will look great especially the one of London! There's also a cool new nightstand mode in which the Watch is placed on it's side and the time lights up all night while you charge the device - super useful.

Numerous apps will now run natively on the watch, meaning they won't need to be tethered to your iPhone's bluetooth connection to function. This should reduce lag and also improve battery life dramatically. No more watching the rotating wheel when all you want to know is tomorrows weather or the location of your next meeting.

I'll be back at 9pm on Wednesday evening to find out whether the above rumours are true and whether we've got a great new line up of Apple tech on the way. What are you most looking forward to seeing? For me it's got to be the huge Apple TV update! 

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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