Apple has rolled out a nice enhancement to the Radio tab in the Music app, further promoting Beats 1 as a live always-on service. As pictured above, rather than displaying the same static image of the Beats 1 logo with a Listen Now subtitle, the Radio tab now updates along with the live schedule … displaying live show titles, host names, description and artwork for the current show. This change allows users to quickly find out what’s on right now and could convert more people into actively listening to the free Beats 1 radio station.
The Radio tab content is largely controlled by server-side data, so Apple has been able to apply this change without an iOS system update; it is appearing on devices running the public iOS 9.2.1 and beta iOS 9.3 seeds.
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The new design for the tab is definitely an upgrade in functionality and usability. With the old static image, it was unclear how users were supposed to interact with it. The new view is clearly signposted as a tappable element with the constantly-refreshing cover content encouraging people to tune in.
There are now two clear buttons to interact with: ‘Listen Now’ and ‘Explore Beats 1’. Tapping Explore takes the user to the Beats 1 upcoming schedule page and host biographies. Tapping Listen Now, or anywhere on the artwork, launches Beats 1 immediately in the music player.
Apple has been slowly improving the user experience with Radio and Apple Music over time. With iPhone 6s, Apple added a 3D Touch shortcut to make tuning into Beats 1 even easier. I wrote up some ideas about how Apple can improve the Beats 1 service earlier in the year. Making the Radio tab as dynamic as the 24/7 station itself is a great start. Following the shutdown of ad-supported iTunes Radio stations, Beats 1 is now the only free music station available on Apple Music without a subscription.