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.
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.
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.
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.
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.