Apple’s new music service, Apple Music, is launching on Tuesday and the first reviews are already in. Like Spotify, Apple Music offers millions of tracks with a monthly subscription.
But what Apple hopes will differentiate its streaming music service from the competition is its focus on curation.
In addition to being able to stream tracks from just about any artist, Apple Music has its own radio station called Beats 1 that will broadcast around the clock featuring prominent DJ personalities in New York, London, and Los Angeles.
Plus, Apple’s service has a feature called Connect that lets you follow your favourite bands and singers.
But is Apple Music enough to lure people away from Spotify? The early reviews are positive, but some have called the service complicated to use. Here’s a look at some first impressions.
- Walt Mossberg of Re/code says that one of Apple Music’s biggest strengths is that you can integrate music you stream with music you’ve already bought from iTunes. This is a big deal, because if you’re an iTunes customer using an iPhone, you’d previously have to switch between whichever app you use to stream music and Apple’s music player to get that experience. Mossberg does note, though, that the app is complicated. “And the company offers very little guidance on how to navigate its many features,” Mossberg writes. “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.”
- Mashable’s Christina Warren particularly liked the recommendation aspect of Apple Music. She praised the For You tab in Apple Music, which recommends playlists based on the artists you listen to. She writes: “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.”
- Edward C. Baig of USA Today also enjoyed using the For You section, where he found numerous playlists tha fit under general themes like hanging out or cooking. He also liked the design of the app, which he used on an iPhone 6 Plus. But, like Mossberg, he also noted that the interface was a bit confusing. He writes: “Apple Music certainly looks visually appealing on the iPhone 6 Plus preloaded with the iOS update, especially the way Apple extracts the colours and themes from an album cover and displays it across the entire display, though it also took me a while to get comfortable finding my way around–there’s an awful lot packed into a section labelled New.”
- MTV News’ Brenna Ehrlich liked the structure of the genre-based playlists curated by Apple’s music editors. But, she did note that some of the song choices for the Indie playlist were a bit odd. She writes: I mean, the definition of “indie” music is really loose — but I don’t generally think of artists like The Weeknd and A$AP Rocky as being particularly independent, and yet they were listed.” I did like the structure, though — the section features playlists, albums you need to hear, radio, a spotlight feature where certain artists are called out (Odd Future was indie’s, which seemed a little, well, odd to me), plus playlists that feature artist influences.”
- Kory Grow of Rolling Stone thinks that Apple Music’s “vast selection of music” and “smartly curated playlists” could make it a tough competitor for Spotify and Pandora. But, like other reviewers have noted, Grow writes that users will need to “dig around” to find some of the features that aren’t immediately intuitive.