Although Apple Music has been out for awhile, it's not too late to give it a go.
The music streaming service is subscription-based and packed with features, including offline listening for when you're not connected, and it combines all your music in one place, such as your iTunes tunes or even songs ripped from a CD. Apple Music also offers up radio stations, social ties, and integration with Siri - so you can control most things with voice commands.
Apple Music is robust and therefore giving rivals a run for their money. Spotify, for instance, is nine years old with nearly 30 million subscribers across the world, but Apple Music passed 11 million subscribers in early 2016 and is rapidly growing. With such overwhelming instant success, we wouldn't blame you for wanting to figure what the service is and how it works.
To help you with that task, Pocket-lint has explained everything you need to know. We've included bits like how much it costs, whether you need a subscription, what you need to do to navigate the interface, and more.
Apple Music: What is it?
Apple acquired the Beats Music subscription-based streaming service as part of its purchase of Beats Electronics in 2014, and then Apple discontinued the service when it launched Apple Music one year later. Apple Music not only lets you stream on-demand any track from the iTunes catalogue but also access all your music - whether purchased from iTunes, ripped from a CD, or downloaded from the web - all in one place.
The new streaming service also offers up recommendations tailored to your interests, Internet radio (in the form of the Beats 1 radio station), the ability to save music to your device for offline listening, expert-curated playlists, integration with the Siri assistant on iOS devices, and a blog and social network platform (called Connect), which allows artists to share content and updates with their followers and more.
Apple Music: How much does it cost?
The service is free for three months. After the trial, you will automatically be charged $9.99 a month for an individual plan. A family subscription via iCloud Family Sharing is available for up to six people for $14.99 a month.
Pocket-lint has discussed iCloud Family Sharing in more detail here, or you can read about it from Apple's support page.
Apple Music: Do you need a subscription?
No. If you don't have a paid subscription, Apple Music still lets you listen to music you've purchased, ripped, or uploaded to your device. Also, if you get iTunes Match for $24.99 a year, you'll be able to use Apple Music to listen to any music you've uploaded to iCloud. You'll also be able to listen to Beats 1 radio, make use of Connect, and listen to ad-supported Apple radio stations.
With a paid subscription (or trial), you get all that plus unlimited skips for Apple Music radio stations and the ability to like, comment, play, and save Connect content, listen unlimitedly to the entire Apple Music catalogue, access your purchased and ripped library, stream songs uploaded to iCloud and curated recommendations, and save songs to your library for offline listening.
Apple offers more details on subscription perks on this page.
Apple Music: Which devices support it?
You can access Apple Music via the following devices:
- iOS devices - Update to latest iOS version and launch the Music app
- Apple Watch - Update from a paired iPhone (iPhone 5 or later)
- Apple TV - Default Music app is available on new Apple TV box
- Mac - Update to and launch the latest version of iTunes
- PC - Update to and launch the latest version of iTunes
- Android - Download the beta on Google Play and launch the app
- Sonos - Download and launch the Sonos app
You can learn more about how to update your iOS devices from Apple's support page here. Mac and PC users will also need to upgrade to the newest version of iTunes, which you can do from this Apple support page. Meanwhile, Android users can go to this support page to learn more about how to get Apple Music on their phones up and running.
Apple Music: How does it work on Apple Watch?
You can sync music from your Apple Music library to your Apple Watch - just like a playlist. All music is locally stored on Apple Watch.
Apple Music: Is it available in your country?
Apple Music is now live in the US, UK, and elsewhere.
It will soon be live in more than 100 countries, according to Apple. You can see the company's full list of countries from here.
Apple Music: How do you navigate the UI?
Once you download the app, then launch it, and sign up, you will go through a music-tailoring process and be brought to the For You screen. You'll then see a menu bar at the bottom, for navigation and to show the screen you're on. There are five screen tabs in the menu bar:
For You: A curated selection of music you should enjoy. It's based on what you said you like, your listening habits, and the music you own. The first time you launch Apple Music, you'll be able to specify what genres and artists like, and from that point you'll see the For You screen loaded with suggestions like genre-specific playlists, albums, guest playlists made by artists, etc.
New: An editorially-curated selection of music from across the service, making it a lot like the existing iTunes homepage. Taylor Swift's 1989 album, for instance, is heavily promoted at the top, since Apple Music is the only place you can stream it. This section also highlights hot tracks and albums, top songs, new releases, etc. You can view these New curations by genre too.
Radio: A home for Beats 1, the 24/7, globally-broadcasted radio station led by Zane Lowe and two other DJs. You will see an option to listen to Beats 1 at the very top of the section. Below that, you'll see Pandora-like stations as well as iTunes Radio's old channels.
Connect: A place to follow the bands and artists you love so you can get access to their latest updates, which may includ songs, exclusive videos, and more. Each artist has a dedicated page with their content. Oh, and you'll automatically follow all the artists you liked when you first launched Apple Music and went through the setup/tailoring process.
My Music: A place for you to navigate through all of your music, whether it comes from iTunes, a CD, or all the streamable tunes in Apple Music. Every time you add a song, album, or playlist, it can be found at the top of My Music in Recently Added. Below that you'll see two tabs for Library (all the music you already own plus offline music) and Playlists (all the playlists you've made).
Apple Music: How does it work?
There are several features, controls, and options baked into Apple Music. Here's a few key ones worth remembering:
Fave artists: Once you sign up for Apple Music, you will be brought to a screen that lets you choose artists and genres you like. Tap once on a genre bubble that you like, or twice on genre bubbles that you like the most. Press and hold in the upper-left corner of genre bubbles you don’t like to remove them. Ensure you select at least three, then tap Next, and select artists in the same way you selected genres. If you don’t see any artists that you like, tap Load More Artists. Once you've selected at least three artists, tap Done.
Play music: Tap any play button on a playlist, or tap on an individual song or album, to see a miniplayer appear at the bottom of the screen. Tap on the Miniplayer to see the Now Playing screen and various controls, including the ability to scrub, skip, repeat, play next, favourite, share, AirPlay, add to your music, start a station, or show in iTunes. Tap the down button or swipe to exit.
Use Siri: You can ask Siri to “play the top songs from 2015”, “play more songs like this", “add the new Drake album to my library", "play all songs by Drake" (to listen to all of Drake's music, even if it's not in your library), and "play my music by Drake"(to hear Drake's songs that you have saved to your library). You can also ask Siri to shuffle the songs in an album or playlist.
Search: Tap the magnifying glass button in the upper right-hand corner to search genres, songs, albums, and artists. Search works across Apple Music and your own music. If you search Drake, you will see top results, songs, albums, playlists, artists, and stations related to Drake. To see results from your own music collection, just tap the "My Music" option at the top.
Build library: Search for an artist, such as Drake, then pick a song, and tap the three-dot (more options) button. Look for and tap the "+" button next to add it to your library. This menu also lets you love the song or start a radio station.
Edit playlists: You can add any song or album to a playlist by tapping the three-dot (more options) button from the Now Playing screen and selecting Add to a Playlist. From there, you can add to any playlist or make a new one. Also, under Playlists on the My Music screen, you'll see options to sort all your playlists and create new ones. Just fill in details and then add songs.
Share music: Tap the share button on any song or playlist to share a link to Facebook or Twitter, send in Mail or Messages, or copy the link.
Hear Beats 1: This is another simple one... Go to the Radio screen and then tap the Listen Now button. A page should appear with info about what's on air right now, as well as a schedule of upcoming shows an DJs.
Listen offline: Apple Music lets you download copies of any available songs, albums, or playlists you want to your devices. It's helpful if you're going to be out of range. Just go to a song or album, then tap the three-dot button to see more options, and select the download button to download it to your device (and library). There's no limit to what you can keep offline or for how long.
Use Connect: Your favourite artist may post things from time to time, and their posts appear as scrollable cards under the Connect screen. Click on any card to read the post, play included music, watch an embedded video, etc. You will also see options to like the post, comment, and share.
Your account: Similar to the search magnifying glass on every screen, Apple Music shows a profile symbol in the upper left-hand corner of every screen. Tap it to access account-related settings, such as the ability to designate your name and display nickname. You can also go here to follow/unfollow artists (or disable the automatic follow feature) and sign out.
Apple Music: What are some tips and tricks?
Check out Pocket-lint's round-up of eight tips and tricks worth knowing.
Apple Music: Are there any alternatives?
The obvious alternatives include: Spotify, Google Play Music, and Tidal. Each of these services allow you to not only stream music but also keep listening when offline, though you'll need to be paid subscribers for access to offline-listening as well as other premium features. You can learn more about all these services by checking out the following Pocket-lint round-ups for each:
Want to know more?
Apple offers several guided tours on Apple Music via its site.