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First look at Apple Music: Siri and Beats 1 turn streaming on its ear

Caitlin McGarry | July 2, 2015
Apple Music was worth the wait. Amidst a marketing frenzy and controversy over royalty payments and Taylor Swift's feelings, it was easy to forget that few people had actually used Apple's new streaming service. Apple finally launched Music on June 30, and it was everything we expected it to be (plus a few surprises thrown in for good measure).

New

Here's where Music gets a little complicated. New is jam-packed with stuff to listen to, but thankfully the week's new releases are pinned to the top, which is where they should be. (Taylor Swift's 2014 release, 1989, currently claims the primary slot even though it's far from being new, but being the sole service to stream Swift's opus is Apple Music's claim to fame, so I'll allow it.) Apple Music will have the same new albums and singles each Tuesday that the other streaming services have, so this isn't a differentiator. It's essential.

Then New starts to dive further into new music. There's Hot Tracks, a selection of songs you might not have heard of but are gaining traction. Keep scrolling for Recent Releases, then head into Top Charts, where you can stream the top songs, albums, and watch the newest music videos on iTunes. All of this is just a tap away, and the experience is completely seamless. (Of the streaming services, only Apple Music and Tidal offer music videos.)

New also surfaces songs and videos that artists share on Connect, so even if you don't follow an artist, you can still find out what they're doing on the social platform piece of Apple Music.

Keep scrolling. There's more.

New buries genre-specific playlists from Apple Music's editors and high-profile curators from partners like Rolling Stone and Vice. Want to hear supermodel Kendall Jenner's workout playlist? It takes a few taps to get there, but New is where you'll find it. (New > Curators > Vogue, to be exact.)

Apple also spotlights selected artists--currently Sia--and highlights songs from new artists, and that's all after you're exploring activity-based soundtracks to BBQing, running, and working (these were also snagged from Beats Music and are well worth a listen). The activity playlists should really be featured more prominently, like they are in the new Spotify app's Moments tab, because having to hunt through Music to find a Friday night soundtrack or a Monday morning productivity playlist isn't ideal. New has so much music I could spend hours wading through, but its UI is a little too cluttered to be useful.

Radio

I rarely use other streaming services' radio features, because the best part about paying for streaming is having on-demand access to the songs I want to listen to right now. But Apple is really pushing for radio, and maybe they're on to something--243 million people listen to terrestrial radio in the U.S. every week.

One of Apple Music's marquee features is Beats 1, a 24-hour worldwide radio station anchored by radio personalities Zane Lowe, Ebro Darden, and Julie Adenuga. The station kicked off at 9 a.m. Pacific/12 p.m. Eastern with an unlikely first song, "City" by the British band Spring King. They were as shocked as anyone else to hear their song launch the new service.

 

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