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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).

Beats 1 will broadcast an eclectic mix of tunes, including exclusives from artists like Pharrell Williams, whose "Freedom" debuted on the station in its first hour. (Lowe even played it twice in a row. No, that wasn't a bug; it was a feature.)

"Our genre is 'great,'" Lowe said, summing up the Beats 1 ethos.

If you hate FM radio stations hosted by DJs that talk over songs and play whatever they want, regardless of status on the pop charts, Beats 1 isn't the station for you. Apple Music features a slew of other themed radio stations with no humans to disturb you. Want to put on Disney Princess Radio for your kids' living room dance party? Done. Need a workout station to provide the soundtrack for your morning run? Apple Music has it. But give Beats 1 a shot--you just might discover a song that no algorithm would've picked for you. Plus, celebs like St. Vincent, Dr. Dre, and Elton John are hosting their own blocks, so you'll get some insight into what your favorite artists are listening to.

Each station, even Beats 1, gives you a slew of options to act when you hear a song you love. Just tap on the hamburger menu (denoted by the three dots), and add a song to a playlist or to My Music, share it using the share sheet, or navigate to iTunes to buy it. In Beats 1, these options weren't available for every song every time, but we're not sure yet if that's a glitch or related to Apple's licensing deals with record labels.

Connect

I was skeptical about Music's Connect feature from the moment Apple announced it at WWDC, because there are already so many social platforms I can use to follow my favorite celebrities. Beyoncé posts personal photos and song clips on Instagram. Taylor Swift uses Tumblr to connect with her fans. It's unclear if Connect can become the place these musicians will turn to, but right now, it's pretty bare-bones.

FKA twigs recorded some choreography she's practicing for her song "In Time." Feist shared out a link to an album her friend released this week. Alabama Shakes posted a video of a recording session. The glimpses into your favorite artists' work are interesting, but not hugely impressive, given that you can see this kind of behind-the-scenes action everywhere.

Connect would be much more useful--and more social--if you could connect with friends on the platform to share songs or collaborate on playlists instead of simply following artists.

I'm planning to stick with Connect to see if it improves, but if you have no interest in following artists, then banishing Connect from your Music is super simple. Just head on over to your iOS device's Settings > General > Restrictions and toggle off Apple Music Connect. The tab will disappear from your Music dock, replaced with Playlists (which are decoupled from My Music when you don't enable Connect).

 

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