Earlier this week, Apple pushed out the iOS 8.4 update. In so doing, it also gave the world its first look at Apple Music, the long-anticipated streaming service which the Cupertino-based firm developed with Beats. The early reviews have run both hot and cold, but it doesn’t look like Apple’s competitors should be quivering in their boots just yet.
Users can trial the service for three months, before paying $10 per month to access over 30 million tracks on multiple platforms. On paper, it is a similar offering to that of Spotify, although there are differences. For a start, Apple has put plenty of effort into the music discovery features of the service — in particular, Beats 1, an exclusive 24/7 radio station that is manned by some of the world’s top DJs. There is also a social network built into Apple Music, named Connect, which is designed to allow fans to keep in touch with news from their favorite artists. It does fall behind Spotify on quality, though; 256kbps compared with Spotify Premium’s 320kbps.
One of the first journalists to gain access to the app was veteran Apple watcher, Walt Mossberg. In his first impressions piece for Re/Code, he notes that “Apple has built a handsome, robust app and service that goes well beyond just offering a huge catalog of music”. He is not alone among reviewers in finding some areas of the iOS app confusing — and it does not currently provide lyrics — but the general consensus seems to be that the first version is a decent – if a bit clunky – start.
Unfortunately, the iOS update which carries Apple Music comes with an unpleasant downside. The popular Home Sharing feature, which allows iOS users to stream music from their desktop iTunes library, has been removed. For those of us who prefer to keep music local, this is a considerable blow, but Apple has listed it as a known issue, suggesting that it fully intends to restore the feature soon.
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