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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).

My Music

When you fall in love with a song, tapping on the three dots next to the title brings up a list of options: You can add it to a specific playlist, share it with a friend, queue it up to play next, or save it to My Music, which is where your entire library lives. Songs you've purchased from iTunes sit alongside playlists you've built just to stream. You can organize your library however you'd like--by album, by artist, by song, or by music that's available to listen to offline. Offline listening is a hugely important offering for any streaming service, given what a data-hog streaming can be, so Apple makes it very easy to move your must-have music offline.

You can also remove downloads to save space on your phone while keeping them in your iCloud Music Library (just tap the ellipses next to the song title and tap Remove Download). You can play with the settings to manage music storage on your phone by heading over to Settings > General > Usage > Manage Storage > Music.

Siri

So Connect isn't all that great yet, but social networking was never Apple's strong suit. Where Cupertino consistently kills it? Integration. The way Siri works seamlessly with Music to queue up the songs you want to hear is a perfect example of how Apple products can offer you a frictionless experience--and it could be a game-changer when it comes to streaming music. Never before have I been able to tell my phone to play an album just released today and have the first track thrumming in my earbuds within seconds. It's actually kind of magical.

Siri's capabilities when it comes to Music are incredibly powerful. She can do the basics, like play a specific song, album, or artist. She can also add songs to your queue, shuffle an album or an artist's entire catalog, find chart-topping hits from years past, and figure out what you mean when you tell her to "play that one song from True Detective." (She chose the theme, which is what I was looking for.) You don't even have to have the app open for Siri to do all of this heavy lifting. I don't often find uses for Siri, but her integration with Music is a huge selling point for me, and just might convince me to give up my Spotify premium subscription.

The verdict

Apple Music is free for three months and comes preinstalled when you upgrade to iOS 8.4, so giving the streaming service a shot is a no-risk, no-effort move. I recommend taking it for a spin if you use a competing service to see what you like and what you don't. If you prefer owning your music to streaming, Apple Music makes it incredibly easy to discover new songs you might have never listened to before and then buy them straight from iTunes.

 

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