Make the most of Apple’s new service
Apple’s music streaming service brings big changes to its Music and iTunes apps. We’ll help you make the most of them.
Apple Music has a strong focus on helping you to discover new things among a library of millions of tracks
Apple has at last introduced a music streaming service that, for a monthly fee comparable to similar services (see group test, MF289), gives you access to millions of songs by artists big and small. For £9.99 a month, or £14.99 to allow up to five other family members to use it too, you can explore hundreds of years of musical heritage and hear brand-new releases on your Mac, Windows PC, iOS devices and Apple Watch – and Apple TV and Android devices from the autumn.
We’ve focussed the majority of our tips on the iOS version because of the popularity of accessing music on portable devices, even if that’s to send it to remote speakers. Most of this applies to iTunes 12.2 on the Mac too, though there are a few things that are possible only on one or the other.
The service is about more than just giving you a massive library of music to explore at your own leisure. It also includes the Beats 1 internet radio station (which doesn’t require a subscription), genre-based radio stations (which do) and the feature formerly known as iTunes Radio, availability of which was previously limited to the US and Australia.
Just as important, there’s a strong focus on discovering new things to listen to – both new releases and back catalogue material that fits your tastes. Apple Music tries to do this intelligently, based on some simple guidance from you when setting it up, explicit feedback you give it by marking things as ‘loved’, and your listening habits.
Apple Music also connects you to your favourite artists in the same way you might follow them on social networks. This doesn’t require a subscription except to add audio from their posts to your library.
You might already follow artists on other networks, and right now many we’ve followed seem not to be posting to Apple Music, but in time you might find it a useful way to keep artists’ musings separate from your actual friends.
One thing that might strike you as odd about Apple Music is that it’s so separated out from the iTunes Store. You’ll need to type into a search bar to reach most of what’s in its library, yet you can add things to your personal collection, where you can rate tracks, add them to playlists, and download it to play offline just like tracks you’ve bought.
You’ll spot a new heart icon in Music and iTunes, and on your iOS device’s Lock screen and Control Centre. It’s crucial to getting the most out of the Apple Music when it comes to listening recommendations.