A Brief Overview of New Features Coming to Apple Music

Apple has released developer previews of iOS 10 and macOS 10.12. There are major changes to Apple Music, and they show up in both iTunes and the Music app on iOS. It’s worth noting that Apple can roll out these changes whenever they want in iTunes; they don’t need to actually update the app. Elements such as the iTunes Store and Apple Music are merely web pages that display in iTunes, so, while the iTunes app hasn’t changed, the new display of Apple Music is visible.

The first thing that strikes is the overall design of the pages. The fonts are bigger and bolder, and the layout is different.

Apple music general

Two of the tabs in the top-center of the window have new names: Library replaces My Music, and Browse replaces New. (Both of these are logical changes.)

But look down below; the big For You makes it very clear what you’re looking at, but, unfortunately, eats a lot of the vertical space on a laptop display. For You has two sections: Recommendations and Connect. There were rumors that Connect was going to be deleted, but apparently Apple is going to try to make it work. It’s is a good idea for Connect to be in the For You section, instead of having its own tab.

For You has a date; it shows playlists for the day (I have no idea how they decided that these are Tuesday playlists; perhaps on the weekend there will be mellower music?), and if you swipe to the left, you can see more playlists. Presumably, on a larger display, you’ll be able to see all the playlists offered, but I’ve only installed the beta on my MacBook.

While the display is different, the playlists I see are the same level of “you just don’t get me, Apple Music.” I don’t listen to Tenacious D; my son bought their album, about ten years ago, and it’s in my Purchased list, but I’ve never listened to it. And I really don’t know why they think I like R. Kelly. Scrolling to the right, I get a Coldplay playlist (again, because of my son’s purchases), and then two other playlists that are closer to what’s in my library.

The next sections are Heavy Rotation and Tuesday’s Albums.

Apple music rotation

The Heavy Rotation section should display music I listen to a lot; all it shows is albums I’ve listened to, period. But I don’t use Apple Music a lot, so I’ll forgive it that. I think this section is a good idea; you’ll be able to easily see your recent listens and go back to them.

Below that, the Tuesday’s Albums section offers some, well, Tuesday music? It’s a selection of albums in my music library, plus some related albums that aren’t in my library, that the Cupertino algorithm thinks I might like. However, these day labels suggest that these sections will change each day, rather than simply be replaced by new content at the top of the window, as is currently the case.

Next comes Artist Playlists; which are, of course, playlists by artists in my music library.

Artist playlists

The logic here seems to be to pay more attention to what I’ve added to my music library, rather than offer suggestions from the cloud. This makes sense, at least for the way I listen to music, but others, looking to find more new music, may not appreciate it as much. Here, Apple Music has my tastes down pat: Dylan, the Grateful Dead, and Brian Eno (and if I swipe to the left, I also get Harold Budd, and some others).

Finally, there is a New Releases for You section at the bottom. There are six albums – a bit limited for recommendations – one of which I do want to hear, but none of the others interest me, or are of artists that I am familiar with. I have no idea how this section is created.

Switch to Browse to see what’s new, and what’s not.

Browse

Again, there are text tabs in the window, rather than using a menu. New Music shows what’s new on Apple Music, Curated Playlists is what it says, then you see Top Charts, if you want to know what’s popular, and Genres takes you to a rather boring page of text links from which you can access a number of genres. The options within each genre haven’t changed, but the fonts have.

The Radio tab takes you to Apple Music radio stations, including, of course, Beats 1, and the iTunes Store display hasn’t changed.

Here are a few screenshot of Apple Music on iOS; as you can see, they essentially reproduce the same elements as iTunes, just in a vertical layout. One problem I see is the size of the artwork for playlists and albums; it should be smaller, so you can see a bit more content.


Library ios   For you ios

Playlists ios   Rotation ios

26 thoughts on “A Brief Overview of New Features Coming to Apple Music

  1. I take it it’s still not possible to save and download songs and playlists from Apple Music to my local library without sacrificing it to the ungodly dark lords of iCloud Music Library?

  2. It seems to fix the biggest issue I currently have with Apple Music: the tiny touch targets. Has navigating to an artist’s discography improved any?

    • Yes, you tap an artist’s name, then you see a list of albums in grid view with artwork. However, I see no way to switch to a list view, so if you have a lot of albums by an artist, it may not be the best way. It does show the primacy of album artwork, however, which is more prominent everywhere.

  3. It is not accurate for Apple to say they rebuilt Apple Music from the ground up. I haven’t heard anything that suggests new or better functionality. It sounds like they just updated the visual design and eliminated some clutter.

    That’s fine as far as it goes. I do like the clean new layout, though I can’t say whether it is functional. The larger text is easier on my middle-aged eyes; the touch targets easier for my soon-to-be arthritic fingers!

    I’m a little worried that the larger text exacerbates an existing problem: How to display songs with long titles, like “Symphony No.3, Op. 55 “Eroica”: Symphony No.3, Op. 55 “Eroica”: IV. Finale – Allegro molto.”

    The current solution–scrolling the full title across the screen very slowly–is frustrating. It’s time-consuming, and the screen often goes black before the whole title has displayed.

    iOS 6 solved this problem: if you tapped and held the song, a black bubble appeared with the full title. iOS 7, 8, 9 removed this feature, which has been frustrating.

    Does iOS 10 provide a solution to the problem?

  4. Is it finally possible to create your own playlist in the cloud, without downloading the music first on your computer?

  5. I do hope they’re able to fix so many bugs that are still plaguing my Library just because I have iTunes Match and Apple Music. I have so many songs that are missing (iCloud seems to lost it), tracks that can’t auto-play when you’re playing an album, duplicates, etc. Some of them are even purchased on iTunes but wouldn’t play on its own you have to manually click it, most are stored on iCloud because I have iTunes Match.

  6. The point you make about FOR YOU suggesting music you once used or don’t use is truly valid. About 90% of the music suggested for me is music I never listen to. Sometimes though there are good suggestions. This really ought to be so much more intuitive, and it surprises me Apple can’t seem to accomplish this.

    • Good point. I hadn’t thought of it (because I’ve never actually seen a Zune), but I did see some screenshots, and it does look a bit like that. Windows Phone has a similar way of presenting text links.

  7. The “Heavy Rotation” feature gives some hope that Apple will start being more intelligent about the data iTunes generates (at least locally — no idea what they aggregate). iTunes should know what I’ve been most likely to listen to over the last few months (or year, or whatever) and not just base its recommendations on whatever I’ve downloaded or bought. It tracks what I’m actually listening to — why not use that to make its AI smarter?

    • Apple should buy Last.fm and incorporate scrobbling and our listening history into iTunes. My history goes back to 2005.

      • Totally agreed. Scrobble Apple Music to Last.fm on iOS devices is a nightmare. Much better on Mac w/ Silicio. The fact that I have to pay 2 bucks for a half baked scrobbler to just scrobble music inside “My Music” is a pain in the ass. This would also provide Apple w/ solid AI recommendations.

    • IMHO, I don’t think Apple is using that much AI behind Apple Music. Apple emphasised this multiple times, human curators are behind these recommendations. Not a big problem for me though.
      And the recommendations only reflect the taste of Apple Music Editors in some ways I think. I use the new “Browse” tab heavily, cause I usually know what I will be listening to and I pretty much don’t need any recommendations. Occasional Beats 1 listening can provide me w/ something I was not familiar w/.

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