Review: Apple Music offers great discovery & radio features, but has room for improvement

Apple-Music

Apple Music was a service that I was incredibly excited about when Apple announced it last month at WWDC. I’ve written a lot about music here at 9to5Mac and every time I explain how big of a music fan I am. When I’m in my office, I always have music playing, whether it be radio or a specific artist or album. For the past two years, I’ve been using Spotify for all of my streaming music needs. I never had a problem with the service, especially recently as it has upped the quality of both its iOS and Mac apps to be both more stable and feature-rich. A combination that is hard to come by nowadays.

Being the Apple fanboy that I am, however, I obviously had to give Apple Music a try. For the past week, I’ve been using the service as my exclusive source for music. How does it compare to Spotify? Is it enough to make me permanently switch? Read on…

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Apple Music diary: Day 1, first impressions

apple-music-review

I’m not expecting here to replicate my rather extensive Apple Watch diary series – I doubt this one will run to four pieces. I’m also not starting out here as an Apple Music skeptic. I’ve been using Spotify for years, and – from a brief trial of Beats Music – started out pretty confident I would be jumping ship once Apple Music launched.

But I do think Apple Music has one thing in common with the Watch: I don’t think it’s possible to judge it without a reasonable amount of usage. So I thought I’d begin with my first impressions and then follow up once I’ve used it long enough to have more to say.

glitches

I’m not going to dwell on the launch-day glitches, like the welcome screen (above) left over from the beta, the rather belated iTunes updateBeats 1 outage, frequent spinning beachballs in iTunes and the tracks that either refused to play at all or took an age to do so. Half the planet was simultaneously using the service yesterday, so these things will only become issues if they persist. So leaving those aside, what were my first impressions … ?  Read more

Apple releases iOS 8.4 with Apple Music, Beats 1, and all-new Music app

As promised, Apple has just released the iOS 8.4 software update featuring an all-new Music app for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch to the public after testing with developers since mid-April. While it includes smaller changes throughout, the update primarily delivers an overhauled Music app with Apple Music (notice the new icon), its brand new subscription music streaming service, and Beats 1, its 24/7 live radio station that launches today. Read more

Apple Music expected to include Dr. Dre’s ‘The Chronic’ album, a digital first [Update: confirmed]

Dr Dre Eddy Cue Jimmy Iovine

Dr. Dre with Apple’s Eddy Cue

[Update: Apple tells us that The Chronic will definitely be available tomorrow on Apple Music.]

[Update #2: The Chornic is available on Apple Music and available to purchase digitally for the first time on the iTunes Store.]

Taylor Swift’s 1989 album isn’t the only high profile record exclusive coming to Apple’s new streaming music service when it launches tomorrow. Apple Music is said to include Dr. Dre’s classic album The Chronic for streaming, Rolling Stone reports, which will be a digital first for the hip-hop album. Read more

Beats almost had a Sonos killer built before Apple bought them and killed it

beats

According to a new report from Variety, Beats was developing a line of Sonos-like speakers before it was acquired by Apple. When the Apple acquisition occurred, development of the connected speakers was stopped, according to the report. Some of the engineers that were working on the project were moved to other teams, while others have since left the company.

The line of speakers that Beats had planned was originally slated to launch before the 2014 holiday season. While the company already offers several Bluetooth-based speakers, the company wanted to develop a new line that combined Bluetooth, WiFi, and NFC technologies to allow for more seamless playback. Beats was planning a large, living room speaker that was reportedly going to be priced at around $750, as well as several smaller, more affordable options.

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Apple confirms Apple Music will allow you to download albums for offline listening

apple-music-offline-listening

Streamed music is great for having access to almost everything, but it isn’t always ideal when you’re on the move thanks to patchy data coverage and carrier data caps. While Apple didn’t mention it yesterday, it has now confirmed to Re/code that Apple Music supports offline listening. The feature is also listed in a feature checklist on Apple’s website.

As an Apple Music member you can add anything from the Apple Music library — a song, an album or a video — to your collection. And that’s just the warm-up act. From there you can create the perfect playlist from anything you’ve added. You can save it for offline listening and take it on the road.

Apple didn’t give any details, but offline listening is likely to work in the same way as Spotify Premium …  Read more

Tidal announces desktop app betas, $4.99 student pricing, Ticketmaster integration ahead of Apple Music debut

Tidal-Mac-app-beta

Jay-Z’s recently launched Tidal music streaming service, a competitor to Apple’s own services in more ways than one, is today getting a big update right before the debut of the new Apple Music streaming service next week at WWDC. A desktop app beta for both Mac and Windows, $4.99 student pricing, and ticketing features through Ticketmaster integration, all help set a high bar for Apple to impress us with its own announcements next week.

The new desktop app (pictured above) is arriving in beta and brings a few features that weren’t previously possible with the mobile and web apps. The announcement today also includes a refreshed design for the mobile apps: Read more

Rdio plans new $3.99/mo streaming tier ahead of Apple Music launch next month

Beats Studio Wireless

Update: Rdio officially announced the new plan today.

Apple is slated to launch its streaming music service next month, but Rdio is trying to cut off a portion of Apple’s market with a new service. BuzzFeed News reports that Rdio plans to introduce a $3.99 a month streaming music service. The service, called Rdio Select, will be significantly limited, which is to be expected given the low price point…

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Apple accused of stifling streaming music competition as DOJ joins EC in antitrust investigation

apple-doj-investigation

Allegations that Apple is engaging in anti-competitive practices in the run-up to the launch of its rebranded Beats streaming music service are now being investigated by the Department of Justice, according to “multiple sources” cited by The Verge.

The claim is that Apple has been attempting to use its influence to persuade music labels to pull out of deals with free, ad-supported services like Spotify and YouTube in order to reduce competition and increase demand for its own paid service. The European Commission launched an investigation into these same allegations last month …

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