Hands-on: Apple’s all-new Music app in iOS 8.4

With the release of the first developer beta of iOS 8.4 this evening, Apple gave us the first look at the oft-rumored redesign of the Music app. With the expected announcement of Apple’s streaming music service happening in June, the Music app redesign has been expected for several months now. The newly introduced Music app offers a handful of new features in the first beta of iOS 8.4, as well as a redesigned interface that’s similar to iTunes on the Mac. Let’s take a brief look…

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Apple previews revamped Music app with iOS 8.4 beta ahead of WWDC streaming service launch

Apple has just released the first iOS 8.4 beta, which includes Apple’s upcoming revamped Music app. The seed for developers is available via the Apple Developer Center website.

As we reported earlier this year, iOS 8.4 includes an all new Music application. The new software design is present in this beta, while Apple is expected to announce the streaming service component in June at WWDC.

Here are the release notes from Apple for the new app:

– All-New Design. Music app has a beautiful new design that makes exploring your music collection easier and more fun. Personalize playlists by adding your own image and description. Enjoy stunning pictures of your favorite artists in the Artists view. Start playing an album right from the album list. The music you love is never more than a tap away.

– Recently Added. Albums and playlists you’ve recently added are now at the top of your library, making it effortless to find something new to play. Simply tap play on the artwork to listen.

– Streamlined iTunes Radio. Discovering music with iTunes Radio is easier than ever. You can now quickly return to your favorite stations in Recently Played. Choose from a selection of hand-curated stations in Featured Stations, or start a new one from your favorite artist or song.

– New MiniPlayer. With the new MiniPlayer, you can see what’s playing and control playback while browsing your music collection. To open Now Playing, just tap on the MiniPlayer.

– Improved Now Playing. Now Playing has a stunning new design that showcases your album artwork the way it was meant to be. In addition, you can begin wirelessly streaming your music using AirPlay without leaving Now Playing.

– Up Next. It’s now simple to find out which songs from your library will play next — just tap the Up Next icon in Now Playing. You can even reorder, add, or skip songs whenever you like.

– Global Search. You can now search from anywhere in the Music app — just tap the magnifying glass. Search results are conveniently organized to help you quickly find that perfect song. You can even start an iTunes Radio station right from Search.

iOS 8.4’s Music application includes revamped search, the UpNext and MiniPlayer features from iTunes on the desktop, improved iTunes Radio functionality, a new Recently Added page, and more on top of the new design. On the iPad, there’s a new split-screen interface on the iPad, as seen in the screenshots below. On the iPhone, the landscape interface has been removed entirely. The icon for the app remains the same, however. We have a hands-on gallery of several more screenshots below:

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Opinion: The pros & cons of existing streaming music services & what Apple’s needs to succeed

Beats Music iTunes Festival

Apple’s upcoming music streaming service comes at an interesting time in the industry. Jay-Z recently relaunched his own streaming music service dubbed Tidal, recruiting help from other A-list artists like Rhianna, Alicia Keys, Coldplay frontman Chris Martin, and Kanye West. There are existing services from Spotify, Beats, Google, and others. All of these offerings have their own pros and cons, but I’ve used them all and none of them accomplish streaming music perfectly. Apple now has the opportunity to take the best features of each service and offer its own competitive service.

Last week, Ben Lovejoy broke down exactly what Apple’s streaming music service would need for him to stop buying music. Even without Apple’s new service, I’ve already done that. Most of my music is streamed from Spotify. Rarely do I actually buy albums on iTunes, and I almost never buy physical CDs. The problem with this approach is no streaming music service gets it 100 percent right for me.

I’m hoping that Apple incorporates the best of each existing subscription music service into its own upcoming music service. What are those key points? Let’s discuss…

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Opinion: Will Apple’s streaming music service mean I finally stop buying music?

music

I was an early adopter of digital music (you hide your surprise well). I bought my first mp3 player in 1998, some three years before the first iPod. It cost a silly amount of money and stored exactly one album at a time in its 64MB (not GB) of flash memory.

Me being me, I went through a few different generations of mp3 player before Apple completely changed the game with the iPod. Ironically, by adopting a less sophisticated technology–a hard drive in place of flash memory–Apple created a far better product. One that allowed us to carry around 80 albums at a time. I bought one the day it went on sale, having by then finished ripping all my CDs to mp3.

When the 160GB iPod came out in 2007, I again bought one immediately. That was large enough to hold my entire music collection at the time. I not only carried it everywhere with me, I also plugged it into my hifi at home and to the AUX socket of my car stereo. At which point, I started wondering why I still had a wall full of CDs …  Read more

European antitrust authorities investigating Apple’s streaming music service even before it launches

juncker-team-a

Apple’s planned rebranding and relaunch of the Beats streaming music service has not had the easiest of rides. The launch, initially planned for earlier this year, was delayed by the departure of key execs and difficulties integrating Beats and Apple technologies. A planned $5/month price-point had to be abandoned in favor of an attempt at $7.99/month when music labels wouldn’t play ball, and that too now looks increasingly unlikely even though Google Play offered initial All Access Signups for a $7.99 locked in. And any plans to offer artist exclusives as an inducement now face competition from newly-relaunched Tidal.

Just when it seemed things couldn’t get any tougher, London’s Financial Times reports that the European Commission is considering launching an antitrust investigation into the service, even before it launches. The Commission has contacted several music labels to ask what deals have been done with Apple, says the FT.

The commission, which also has contacted Apple’s music-streaming rivals, is said to be concerned that the company will use its size, relationships and influence to persuade labels to abandon free, ad-supported services such as Spotify, which depend on licenses with music companies for their catalogues.

The newspaper implies that the investigation may have been triggered by a formal complaint by an existing streaming music service …  Read more

Jay-Z’s new Tidal music service respects the artist, but rips off Spotify’s UI

Tidal-vs-Spotify-UI

In case you hadn’t heard, Jay-Z is this week launching (relaunching) the Tidal music service he recently acquired along with a lot of help from industry friends. The company is hoping its model is innovative and helps artists earn more, but its UI for the web app appears to be a shameless copy of Spotify, as you can see in the comparison screenshot: Tidal above, Spotify below. Read more

Jimmy Iovine tried to lure key Tidal artists away to Apple, but no hard feelings, says Jay Z

Jay Z Performs At O2 Arena In London

Jay Z suggested in an interview with Billboard that Jimmy Iovine had tried to lure away top-selling artists from his newly-relaunched streaming music service, Tidal, but that he wasn’t angry about it. Iovine had reputedly offered more up-front cash to Tidal artists who agreed to do a deal with Apple.

I think that’s just his competitive nature, and I don’t know if he’s looking at the bigger picture: That it’s not about me and it’s not about him; it’s about the future of the music business.

The rap and hip-hop star said that he had initially hoped to work in cooperation with Iovine, having “talked to every single service,” but had apparently been rebuffed …  Read more

Apple Watch includes 8 GB of storage, allows 2 GB of music and 75 MB of photos

Screen Shot 2015-03-10 at 14.17.21

In our report last week, we reported that internal models of the Apple Watch included 8 GB of storage. We have now confirmed with the company that the shipping units do indeed ship with an 8 GB storage capacity. However, there are some important limitations.

As a user, you are only allowed to use a subsection of that total space for certain types of data. As confirmed with Apple, users are only allowed to store up to 2 GB of music on the Watch and up to 75 MB of photos for the Photos app. Note that all three collections — Sport, Watch and Edition — feature the same 8 GB memory capacity.

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Apple unlikely to hit $7.99/month for streaming music service as labels stand firm on pricing

music

Apple appears set to abandon its plans to offer the rebranded Beats streaming music service for less than the $9.99/month charged by Spotify, Rdio and Google Play Music. Billboard reports that Apple’s attempts to use its clout to negotiate better deals with record labels have been unsuccessful.

Negotiations for Apple’s upcoming subscription service are evidence labels are standing firm on pricing. Industry sources say Apple has backed down from its effort to lower monthly pricing for its subscription service to $7.99 from $9.99.

The report says that the deals offered by the labels would have left Apple losing money if it had gone ahead with its plan to offer the service for the rumored $7.99/month …  Read more

Sources offer hands-on Apple Watch details: battery life, unannounced features, and more

Just ahead of the finalized Apple Watch’s presentation at Apple’s March 9th “Spring Forward” event, sources with hands-on Apple Watch experience have revealed a collection of new details about the device’s features to 9to5Mac. Our sources have offered new information on the Watch’s real-world battery life, health and fitness features, apps, and experiences using Apple’s next-generation touchscreen hardware…

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Opinion: Could Apple’s integrated streaming music service decimate the competition?

Image: Forbes

Image: Forbes

When Apple enters a new business, you know it’s not going to do so in a half-hearted, small way. When it launches its Apple-branded Beats Music service later this year, it’s a no-brainer to predict that it’s going to be a big deal for the music industry. With Apple’s deep integration of Beats into its existing iOS/iTunes ecosystem exclusively revealed by Mark Gurman added into the mix, I wonder whether the unique selling points being notched up by Apple could be enough to leave existing big-name players like Spotify, Google Play and Rdio dead in the water?

That’s rather a grand idea, of course. As of last month, Spotify reached 15 million paid subscribers–up 50% in the last six months alone. Beats Music had only a little over 100,000 subscribers at the time Apple bought the company, and is rumored to have only 2-3 times as many now. But an Apple-ified Beats Music service has four things going for it …  Read more

The Next Episode: Apple’s plans for Beats-based music service revealed

CueBeats

Six months after buying the subscription music service Beats Music, Apple is actively working to launch a completely new paid streaming music service that will compete with Spotify and Rdio. Yet to be named, the new service is entirely Apple-designed, yet leverages Beats’ technologies and music content, a collaboration that has thus far led to personnel challenges and delays. Multiple sources within Apple and the music industry have provided the first in-depth details of Apple’s upcoming streaming service, which we share below.

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