Late to the streaming party, Apple are not playing curveball with theirs. If you have an extensive music collection, this maybe the one for you…
Review by Sunetra Chakravati,9/14/2015 9:33:42 AM
Look and feel
Ease of use
- Good catalogue,
- “For You” works well
- Curated playlists, by people not an algorithm
- Interface can be made simpler
- Love/hate relationship with iTunes
- Intuitiveness can be turned up a few notches
After a month of using Apple Music, I am conflicted about the value it has added in my life.
I have not used Spotify Premium extensively – which I think is good because it has helped me look at Apple Music in a slightly different way and not compare it with other streaming providers.
It has a great interface, in line with what you would expect from an Apple product. I love the fact that the list of songs on an album or for an artist is based on a relevant theme and not just an album picture. But there is too much happening with it too. It is extremely complicated and for the first time, this is an Apple product that doesn't feel very intuitive.
Fortunately, I was rebuilding my catalogue and didn’t try to transfer existing lists from either my iPod or iPhone 5. Which, if I believe other users, is very fortuitous, as songs seem to disappear. But as I have been developing my list from scratch – all is well.
For example – if I have downloaded a playlist (i.e. make available offline), my simple mind expects the individual songs to have been downloaded too. But I am not sure it does – because I can’t find the songs in Albums or Genres and I still see the “make available offline” option available for each individual song in the already downloaded playlist! Even writing that seems confusing. It could have been made simpler – keep the really simple options on the first tap and the detailed options at the next levels.
I don’t think Apple Music likes iTunes a lot. I mean, it works quite well on its own, but the moment I start using iTunes to start cleaning up, modifying playlists, ensuring compilations show up the way they should, songs seem to appear / disappear mysteriously. My music is on “Manage Manually” but a number of songs from my earlier iPhone, which I DO NOT want on my new catalogue, show up greyed out. I don’t want the songs, I can’t play the songs – so why is it showing up? But these are glitches, which will hopefully clear up with updates and patches.
While Apple may not have meant it as a glitch, I find it really annoying that I can only have one version of Layla in my catalogue. Apparently, only the unplugged version is worthy of a listen. This is a common problem and is being reported widely – in it’s move to maintain clean, de-duped lists, it seems difficult to get a song reflect in multiple albums (e.g. Unplugged and The Best of).
And this is where I think, Apple Music really hits it out of the park. The curated content is great – I was becoming a bit jaded with my playlists (and hence the rebuild) and Apple Music has opened a number of windows (pun unintended). The recommendations work well – and with the caveat that I am not a big Spotify user – it seems to work better than Spotify. I have liked most of the “For you” recommendations and coupled with the curated playlists, My Music is looking very different.
I am not an avid radio listener (I don’t think the Denon in our bedroom has played anything but Magic for the last 7 years) but the few listens I have had so far on Radio, seems okay. I really haven’t figured out Connect – I am not the sort who shared my playlists or care too much about what Janet Jackson is tweeting about. Given that I am currently going through a not-on-social-media phase, I haven’t connected very well with Connect.
Overall, I am happy with what Apple has opened up for me. I still have another 45 days to go in my 3-month trial and I think I may continue with the subscription – especially because all the lovely playlists I am creating for myself, won’t be worth a damn if I don’t continue with the subscription. Even though I am disappointed that Apple couldn’t provide me with a playlist of all the tracks from Season 4 of Suits (while Spotify could – Apple could only give me “Inspired by Suits”), I am ready to overlook this (and the other tech glitches) and give it the benefit of doubt. In the hope that over the next few months, Apple listens to its user base and goes back to providing a simple, intuitive app backed by a strong catalogue.
Spotify: One of the most popular music streaming services around, it is almost single-handedly responsible for bringing streaming into the mainstream
Three month free trail that is offered will help get those who think of streaming as a data guzzling job give it another try.