Apple Music Preview: A Sneak Peek at Apple’s New Music App
(Pocket-lint) – The future – it seems – is not software algorithms but people.
Having successfully changed the way we buy and listen to music with the iPod, Apple hopes to bring back those who have moved away to services like Spotify and Deezer with a new app and a new service: Apple Music.
Pocket-lint received early access to play fast with Apple Music ahead of its official launch via iOS 8.4 on June 30. Unfortunately, we were unable to take pictures of the app in action.
Launched in the UK, US and 98 other countries around the world, the app, a streaming music service and radio station, will focus on delivering an Anglo-American experience to millions of listeners around the world 24/7.
Rather than relying solely on software to create playlists, Apple enlists DJs and music experts to curate the nearly endless amount of choices available to music fans today.
The iPhone app we played with is beautifully simple, clean, but not clinical. The album art oozes through the interface, providing a fun and colorful experience to your music no matter where you access it from, and that’s the idea here.
It’s not just local, as it was with iTunes; it’s not just radio, as it was with iTunes Radio; and it’s not just streaming like it is with Spotify, Deezer, Rdio and others.
To get the most out of it, you’ll be encouraged to take the time to tell the app what kind of music you like, and in particular, specific artists.
Shown as floating circles jostling each other for attention, you can ‘like’ or ‘like’ a number of different genres. Being more specific about how you like dancing but only pop, for example, will help filter out music that is not suitable for you in the future. You can spend seconds or hours on this stage really looking for the types of music you like and don’t like.
If you mess up, you can reset it at any time – while the whole experience is dynamic going forward, so it learns as you listen. However, you will not be able to import your old Spotify playlists.
Once you’ve notified the app which music you like, it scans your iTunes collection for the tracks and how often you’ve listened to them. The app then gets to work recommending things it thinks you’ll want to hear.
Featured in multiple ways, you get individual artists, new albums, recommended playlists, and more. It’s like you’ve just walked into a record store and the cocky store clerk isn’t that cocky after all and just happy to help.
The mix of different elements gives the impression that there is a lot to offer. The iPhones we reviewed had different choices, with a good mix of different things to appeal to you.
The playlists are also all vibrant, with themes encompassing everything from “Feeling blue” to “Running”, and Apple will have a number of publishers specializing in different musical fields (be it electronic or country music).
Playlists are editable. You can chop them up and change them. Click on the heart to say you like certain tracks more, then wait for them to change. Publishers will constantly find new avenues to appeal.
Playlists are all curated by people, which means they all have to make sense. If you find that you like a certain editor, you can even follow it in the Apple Music app to explore and discover even more music in the future. It also means that nothing will stay the same forever. Playlists will adapt and change with new music added and the potential to remove favorites.
This area highlights new tracks added to the service (whether it’s new releases or an extension to the catalog.) It’s pretty standard, but it allows you to access new music quickly and efficiently. .
This is what really sets Apple apart from the crowd of other music streaming services available today.
Apple is effectively launching a radio station that will be hosted in Los Angeles, New York and London. It will be broadcast 24/7.
Called Beats 1, it will be directed and directed by three main DJs: Zane Lowe in Los Angeles, Ebro Darden in New York and Julie Adenuga in London.
There will be other names involved, as well as a variety of different shows, but the singular station will be available worldwide and will be live. If it’s played at 3 p.m. in the afternoon in LA, you’ll listen to it at 11 p.m. in the UK.
In a bold move to underscore the immediacy of “now,” there will be no backup shows to listen to later. There are no podcasts to listen to. If Zane Lowe is in the studio at 8 a.m. on a Tuesday in Los Angeles, that’s when you’ll listen to him, no matter what time zone you are in.
This immediacy will present a new way of thinking for many millennials, and it will be interesting to see how long Apple is able to keep up with this time-changing ban.
In Apple’s WWDC keynote address, Lowe said he liked the reaction he sometimes gets when playing a song to an audience, and that will be proof of the pudding.
As for the style of music, it will be varied – like most music stations – but always organized by DJs and with a predominant US / UK vibe.
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It won’t just be nonstop music either. You can expect talks, interviews, and other more “traditional” radio station elements all added to the mix (although there are unlikely to be hourly newscasts). It’s not just a DJ pushing buttons without speaking.
When it’s not Zane Lowe or Julie Adenuga, it’s access to iTunes Radio – previously alone, but now found here.
Publisher curated stations are an extension of curated playlists and will offer compelling listening, rather than jumping between two random tracks, as they have the same beats per minute.
The third element is called Connect. Here you can follow artists for additional details or information about their music and life.
Think of it as a dedicated music Twitter feed and you start to get a feel for how it works.
It could be Pharrell sharing a behind-the-scenes video from a music video shoot, or it could be another artist sharing the lyrics for a song that hasn’t been released yet. The idea is that all artists in the Apple Music service can use this tool to promote themselves to fans who subscribe to Apple Music.
Performers will love the direct access to fans, while fans will love the behind-the-scenes gossip in the app.
Whether it is fully utilized remains to be seen. Apple has tried the social around music before – pinging – and it hasn’t really caught on, but if the labels are savvy enough to offer compelling enough reasons to follow, it might work well.
My music is exactly what it sounds like. Remember, this replaces iTunes.
Subscribers automatically have access to iTunes Match, and you will be able to save playlists for offline listening (as you can in Spotify). Playback is 256 kbps, which is already the same as iTunes, and there is no lossless support at this time.
There are still plenty of questions. Will the service be limited to only Apple devices, will it work with services like Sonos, what will the final music selection look like and how much will it cost outside of the UK?
But regardless of those points at this time, what Apple hasn’t done is just create an “me too” product. Instead, he took all of his current offerings and bundled them into one experiment, then added a layer of human gatekeepers on top of that to make sense of all the data.
You have your library, where you bought or ripped your own music, and you have iTunes Radio as well as iTunes Match, and then you have an enhanced version of Genius with human intervention to try and make sense of it all.
This dynamic, people-driven interface layered on complex computer algorithms has the potential to be not only really smart, but also really interesting.
Apple’s success lies in the quality of the publishers, the quality of those playlists, and the ability to attract you to new songs and artists without stepping too far out of your comfort zone.
With three months of free trial to get you started, giving it a try will be a no-brainer.
Written by Stuart Miles. Originally published on .