Apple Music First Impressions: Convenient All-in-One Experience With Overwhelming Design

As Apple Music gears up to launch in the next few hours this morning -- 9 AM Pacific to be exact, following iOS 8.4 at around 8 AM Pacific -- a few publications have posted some detailed first impressions of the the music streaming service. Getting to mess around with the app for the first time, Mashable, Re/code, The Loop and Rolling Stone came away with largely positive reactions to Apple's first foray into the music streaming game, although the large consensus hanging over it all was a tentative negativity regarding the app's overwhelming amount of content and the somewhat confusing UI that is used to navigate it all.

First off, Mashable noted the big positive of the Apple Music service: for those baked into the Apple ecosystem it offers one library, combining purchases from iTunes with the songs users will listen to in Apple Music for one uniform experience. The site was also one of the few to enjoy Apple Music's UI, calling it, "more polished and finished than the old music app." Its biggest takeaway, however, was the "For You" section.

apple music for you

It's hard for me to over-stress how much I like For You. From the very beginning, the recommendations in playlists and albums that the app showed me were dead-on accurate, reflecting my various musical interests.

The idea behind "For You" is to help make it easy to find good music to listen to. Tapping on an album or playlist will play it instantly. You can then either add it to your library, keep it playing in the background, add a track to another playlist or just cycle through. The DNA of this experience really is what we saw with Beats Music last year, but now it's more refined and feels more fully realized.

Re/code mentioned three big positives for the new streaming service: the slick combination of old iTunes songs with new Apple Music songs, surprisingly accurate and enjoyable song curation, and the $15 per month family plan. The biggest issue however tied into one of the app's positives, with the wealth of content and exploration somewhat kneecapped by an overly "confusing" user interface experience, especially within the "New" tab, which "could be a streaming app all by itself."

I set out to gather some initial impressions of how it feels to use the product. And to answer the question: Would I pay $10 a month — $120 a year — to use it? My answer is a tentative yes, with some caveats. Apple has built a handsome, robust app and service that goes well beyond just offering a huge catalog of music by providing many ways to discover and group music for a very wide range of tastes and moods.

But it’s also uncharacteristically complicated by Apple standards, with everything from a global terrestrial radio station to numerous suggested playlists for different purposes in different places. And the company offers very little guidance on how to navigate its many features. It will take time to learn it. And that’s not something you’re going to want to do if all you’re looking for is to lean back and listen.

Similar to Re/code and Mashable, Rolling Stone was impressed by the "Netflix-style hyper customization" of the "For You" tab that will greet every user when entering Apple Music for the first time. Although Beats 1 Radio had not yet launched when the site had hands-on with the service, they got to preview a few artist-focused shows, including St. Vincent's "Mixtape Delivery Service," which saw the alternative musician reading notes from fans and spending the hour dedicating personalized songs to each one.

Rolling Stone also detailed Apple Music's "Connect" platform a bit more than the others, noting that even though a few artists had Connect available to them in the pre-launch demo phase, the Twitter-like service "looked pretty quiet." The biggest issue, however, was the possibility of fan interaction amongst one another within Connect, and the fact that the only designated place for it to occur was within the comments of each individual post.

Moreover, the only place where fans can interact is the comments section of each post, cutting out a major part of what Apple hopes will be a new music ecosystem: fandom. While it's possible fans would share music individually – with Apple Music's many options to post to text, email, Twitter and Facebook – the absence of fans' voices on "Connect" makes it more like a supplement to a social network than an exciting music-discovery platform. But only time will tell if it catches on. This is one place where Spotify, with its ability to follow and make playlists your friends, has a leg up.

With its vast selection of music and smartly curated playlists and radio, Apple Music is robust enough to compete with, and possibly supplant, Spotify and Pandora as the go-to service for music fans. At the same time, users will need to play around with it a bit and dig to move past some of the less immediately intuitive facets (i.e., just how deep the "New" tab goes) for it to hook them.

The Loop went into detail regarding the "My Music" section of Apple Music, noting that between the tab's two sections -- Library and Playlists -- all of a user's old iTunes music downloaded or in the cloud can be found there. Users will be able to add certain playlists to My Music so it can appear front-and-center in the tab without having to go through multiple pages, and entire playlists will be able to be made to listen to offline. Besides a finicky rating system for Beats 1, The Loop largely enjoyed Apple Music in the end.

I’m damned impressed. Apple Music is a quality service, with the right mix of human curation and algorithms to help users figure out exactly what they want to hear. I can only imagine that the service will only get better from here. The more I use it, like/dislike songs, the better it will know me.

I was interacting with Apple Music the entire time I was writing this and the radio station I started listening to improved quite a bit in those hours. I’m not skipping songs, instead I have a steady diet of Slash, Godsmack, Led Zeppelin, and Metallica. It’s hard to beat that.

Everyone will be able to test out Apple Music for themselves soon enough, with the official launch of the updated music app in just a few hours at 9 AM Pacific. Those interested should remember to first download the new iOS 8.4 update an hour before in preparation for the streaming music service's debut.

Top Rated Comments

(View all)
Avatar
67 months ago
Biggest disappointment: no Last.fm scrobbler integration
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
67 months ago
Good idea for Apple to let Jim Dalrymple try it out as the chance of him saying much negative was next to none.

I am concerned a bit about the UI comments from others though. Makes me think this will be iTunes on the PC all over again with one app trying to do to much.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
67 months ago
I can't wait to try this out!
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
67 months ago
I canceled my Spotify subscription in anticipation for this. Looking forward to seeing what it has to offer.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
67 months ago

You could wait 2 months but then you would only get 1 month trial.

no it starts from the moment u sign up for the trial
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
67 months ago
I wont cancel my Spotify sub any time soon, or at least not until the three month trial ends. I´d like to be able to keep both, but it just isn´t worth it.

As I see it, no matter who wins, we all win as consumers..... if it´s good we are given another quality option (one that integrates your itunes purchases at that), and if not, well , competition will only make spotify try harder and hence improve.

With that said I can´t wait to try this out.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

Apple Takes Legal Action Against Small Company With Pear Logo

Saturday August 8, 2020 11:09 am PDT by
Apple is taking legal action against the developers of the app "Prepear" due to its logo, according to iPhone in Canada. Prepear is an app that helps users discover recipes, plan meals, make lists, and arrange grocery deliveries. The app is a spinoff of "Super Healthy Kids," and the founders claim that they are facing litigation from Apple. Apple reportedly takes issue with Prepear's logo, ...

Kuo: Global iPhone Shipments Could Decline Up to 30% If Apple Forced to Remove WeChat From App Store [Updated x2]

Sunday August 9, 2020 10:17 pm PDT by
In a worst-case scenario, Apple's annual global iPhone shipments could decline by 25–30% if it is forced to remove WeChat from its App Stores around the world, according to a new research note from analyst Ming-Chi Kuo viewed by MacRumors. The removal could occur due to a recent executive order aiming to ban U.S. transactions with WeChat and its parent company Tencent. Kuo lays out...

Google Maps Debuts New Apple Watch App and CarPlay Features

Monday August 10, 2020 9:16 am PDT by
Google today announced the launch of several features for Google Maps on Apple products, including new CarPlay functionality and a new Google Maps app that works on Apple Watch. The new Google Maps app for Apple Watch works similarly to the iOS app, allowing Apple Watch owners to get directions for a car, bike, public transit, or on foot. The app supports estimated arrival times and...

Foxconn Reportedly Begins Seasonal Hiring Spree for iPhone 12 Production

Monday August 10, 2020 7:03 am PDT by
Apple's largest manufacturing partner Foxconn has begun its seasonal hiring spree to assist with iPhone 12 production, offering employees who recruit qualified applicants up to a 9,000 yuan bonus, according to Chinese media reports. As usual, Foxconn needs as many hands on deck as possible at its factory in Zhengzhou, China to assist with mass production of the upcoming iPhones. Apple is...

Apple May Release 4G-Only iPhone 12 in Early 2021

Tuesday August 11, 2020 5:28 am PDT by
In a research note shared by Business Insider, Wedbush Securities analysts said that Apple may release a cheaper iPhone 12 in early 2021 with no 5G connectivity. Wedbush initially believed Apple would launch a mix of 4G and 5G iPhone 12 models this fall. Following re-examination of Asian supply chains, analysts Daniel Ives, Strecker Backe, and Ahmad Khalil revised the predictions,...

2020 iMac Teardown Reveals Internal Changes and Similarities

Saturday August 8, 2020 12:44 pm PDT by
A teardown video, shared by OWC, reveals the internal changes in the new 2020 27-inch iMac. The 2020 27-inch iMac was announced earlier this week with 10th-generation Intel Core processors, AMD Radeon Pro 5000 series graphics, up to 128GB of RAM, up to 8TB of storage, a 1080p front-facing FaceTime camera, a True Tone display with a nano-texture glass option, higher fidelity speakers, and...

Apple Believes This German Cycling Path Logo Infringes on Its Own Logo

Wednesday May 1, 2019 9:51 am PDT by
Apple recently objected to the logo of a new German cycling path in an appeal filed with the German Patent and Trademark Office, according to German outlets General-Anzeiger Bonn and Westdeutscher Rundfunk. Apple reportedly takes issue with the logo's green leaf and supposed "bitten" right side, attributes the company believes are too similar to its own logo. The logo, registered with the ...

Apple Seeds First Public Beta of watchOS 7 to Public Beta Testers

Monday August 10, 2020 10:33 am PDT by
Apple today seeded the first public beta of an upcoming watchOS 7 update to public beta testers, one week after seeding the fourth beta to developers and a month and a half after the Worldwide Developers Conference. The update can be downloaded after installing the proper profile from Apple's Public Beta website. watchOS 7 should not be installed on a primary device as it is still an early...

Apple Watch Likely to Adopt MicroLED Display Technology in 3-4 Years

Monday August 10, 2020 2:55 am PDT by
This year's Apple Watch Series 6 is expected to feature an OLED screen like previous models, but a future model is likely to be the first Apple product to adopt MicroLED display technology, albeit not for another three to four years. That's the main takeaway reading between the lines of comments made by the chairman of Epistar, Taiwan's top LED producer, which is reportedly working on a...

Apple Seeds iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 Public Beta 4 to Testers

Thursday August 6, 2020 10:05 am PDT by
Apple today seeded new public betas of upcoming iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 updates to its public beta testing group. Today's software releases, which Apple labels as fourth betas to keep them in line with developer betas, are actually the third betas that Apple has provided and they come two weeks after the prior beta releases. Public beta testers who have signed up for Apple's beta testing...