Update, 13 June 2016: New features and interface changes have finally come to Apple Music at WWDC 2016. Those changes are outlined below, but you should read our WWDC 2016 article for info on the other announcements at the conference.
Complete guide to Apple Music: Changes to Apple Music at WWDC 2016
At WWDC, that took place on 13 June 2016, Apple Music got its refresh and has been revamped, the first time since iOS 9.
Apple Music has been a very successful venture for Apple, with its established subscriber base passing 10 million paying users in early 2016. Yet complaints remained about the service's interface and sometimes sketchy integration with users' personal music libraries, and Spotify, having survived the initial knock when Apple launched its rival service, continues to prosper and grow. (Read more: Apple Music vs Spotify.)
Due to competition and the app receiving a lot of flak for its busy interface, Apple decided to revamp the entire app from the ground up.
It still has five tabs, but they've been changed to: Library, For You, Browse, Radio, and Search. Through these tabs, you'll be able to browse albums, songs, playlists, see your downloaded music and through the now playing tab even see lyrics.
Let's talk a little more about these tabs. First off the tab you're presented with when you launch Apple Music for the first time, Library. In this tab, you can find your playlists, search for artists, albums, songs and downloaded music. You can even see your recently added music at the bottom of the tab's page. Of course, you can edit the menus through the Edit button found at the top left-hand corner.
Moving to the next tab, For You, Apple have added a Discovery Mix so that you can discovery new music that suits your style. As you scroll down, you'll be able to see various new sections, including daily curated playlists which are designed to set your day. At the bottom of the tab's page you'll be able to see what your favourite artists are posting through their own channels, allowing you to connect with artists.
In the Browse tab, you'll be presented with a few options, such as New Music, Curated Playlists, Top Charts, and Genres - all of which allow you to search through songs that you like.
Moving on to the next tab, Radio, which is live in more than 100 countries. At WWDC 2016, there was an emphasis on Beats 1, where at the event they showcased how to explore the radio channel and see what's live and even check the upcoming shows.
Finally, the Now Playing interface has also changed, with the revamp making Apple Music less cluttered. You'll be presented with the album's cover art, seek bar, previous, play/pause and next buttons and a volume slider. As you scroll down, you'll see the lyrics from your song - a new feature added by Apple so that you can actually read what the artists are singing about, or so that you can Karaoke along!
These changes go live on your iPhone, iPad, Mac and PC, Apple TV and Android in autumn 2016, when iOS 10 will be made available to everyone. If you're a developer, you'll have access to a developer preview and if you want to jump on the beta, you can do so in July 2016.
Also see: Apple Music review.
WWDC 2016: Podcast - WWDC report
The UK Tech Weekly Podcast dissect the announcements of WWDC, including the redesign of Apple Music, in its 19th episode. We've embedded the audio below in case you'd like to hear what the team have to say. The WWDC section starts at the 26:30 point.
A new episode of the UK Tech Weekly Podcast comes out every Friday. Follow them on Twitter for links to the latest episodes.
Re-live the WWDC 2016 event through our live blog
Here was the WWDC 2016 live blog, which took place on 13 June 2016.
Complete guide to Apple Music: Wishlist of Apple Music tweaks and new features
We know roughly what to expect from 'Apple Music 2.0' at WWDC, then, but there are a few other aspects of the service that we'd like to change. Here's our short wishlist of tweaks and new features.
Bugginess issues. An obvious one to start with, but Apple needs to go back to basics if it wants users to take its music service seriously. Apple Music has been known to delete users' libraries and crashes more often than is reasonable. The Android version is particularly buggy and crash-prone: a colleague has been using the service on Huawei P9 and declared that it's "practically unusable". But we'll understand if Apple chooses to focus on fixing the iOS version first...
'Offline all' button. At the moment you can press a button to bring a playlist offline, but you can't do this for your entire library. You can do this in Spotify.
Disconnect Connect (or make it offer something unique). Following people on Apple Music remains unrewarding, and even someone as committed to the service as Zane Lowe isn't providing anything on there that you couldn't find elsewhere, and realistically cannot be expected to do so. For most artists it's essentially a duplication of their Instagram - and for some it's not even as interesting as that. Sadly, 9to5Mac predicts that "the social Connect feature will remain mostly unchanged in this year's revamp".
Siri support for Apple Music on the desktop.
Higher-quality streaming. Apple Music streams at a 256Kbps bitrate, which makes it lower than Spotify's Premium 320Kbps, although admittedly higher than the 160Kbps offered with Spotify's free version.
Complete guide to Apple Music: How to set up Apple Music
That's what we're expecting - and hoping to get - from the updated version of Apple Music for 2016. But Apple Music is available now as part of iOS 8.4 or later. Here, we talk you through the setup process, where you'll choose which Membership Plan is right for you and help Apple Music get to know you. Find out how to get Apple Music on your iPad or iPhone here.
If you're already enjoying using Apple Music, you're in good company. According to The Financial Times, Apple Music already has more than 10 million subscribers despite launching only in July last year. That's a figure that took Spotify six years to reach, so it's impressive stuff.
Spotify currently boasts around 20 million paying subscribers and 75 million total active users.
If you've yet to take advantage of free trial or subscribe, here's everything you need to know. (And if you joined the free trial and you'd like to cancel it - or at least switch off auto-renew so it doesn't convert itself into a paid-for membership when the three months expire - then we've got useful advice for you too.)
Is Apple Music any good? Podcast discussion
How to set up Apple Music on an iPhone
If you've downloaded and installed iOS 8.4 or later, you should notice that your Music app icon looks a little different. It's now white with a rainbow-coloured note rather than orangey-red with a white note.
Tap that icon and you'll be greeted by the Apple Music logo, followed by a page that reads: "All the ways you love music. All in one place. Unlimited access to over 30 million songs, a reimagined live radio station, and a personal connection to the artists you love." Sound good? Then you can click "Start 3-month free trial."
If you decide you don't want to use Apple Music, you can click "Go to My Music" to access the music you've got stored locally on your iPhone.
Once you've tapped "Start 3-month free trial," you'll be asked to choose a membership plan. You won't be charged for the first three months of using Apple Music, but after that you'll be charged a fixed amount per month depending on the plan you choose.
(If you don't plan on using Apple Music past the free trial, you can turn off automatic renewal - we'll explain how to do that in a moment.)
As of May 2016, there are three membership tiers: Individual (£9.99 a month), Family (£14.99, but can be used by up to 6 family members) and Student (£4.99). It might look like there's only two, but the student option is represented by the line 'Are you a University Student?' - more on the student membership, and how to sign up for it, in the next section.
If you use Family Sharing, you can choose the £14.99 Family Membership plan to share use of the service with up to six people. Most people, however - other than students - will want to choose the £9.99 Individual plan. Find out more about the Family Membership in a section below.
Slightly confusingly, when you choose which plan you want to join, you'll see a message that reads: "Confirmation Required. Do you still want to buy Individual [or Family if you chose that option] membership for £9.99?" You need to click buy, but you won't be charged despite what that message insinuates. You will get three months for free.
Apple has launched a student membership for Apple Music, whereby those in education can get a 50 percent discount on the service's subscription costs. (You can still get three months for free, but students pay less after the trial expires.)
If you're a student, tap where it says 'Are you a University Student?' and you'll be directed to a verification system - if your college or university is eligible you'll get the reduced subscription rate.
If you're a student and an Apple fan, of course, make sure you're enjoying Apple's education discount on other products; that article also talks about the Apple Music student membership discount in more detail.
How to turn off automatic renewal (so your Apple Music free trial doesn't turn into a paid membership)
You can switch off auto-renew in the settings within the Apple Music app itself, or in iTunes on your Mac. Either way it's pretty straightforward.
On the iPhone (or iPad):
Open the Music app. Tap the icon at the top left of the screen to open your account page, select View Apple ID and enter your password. Select Manage, and find the entry for Apple Music in the list of your subscriptions. Tap 'Your Membership Apple Music Membership'. Turn off automatic renewal.
On the Mac:
Open iTunes on your Mac. Click the drop-down menu to the right of the 'now playing' display, then Account Info. Enter your Apple ID password. Find the Subscriptions listing and click Manage next to this. Find the entry for your Apple Music subscription and select Edit. Under Automatic Renewal, pick Off.
That's a very condensed version of the process, but you can see how simple it is. If you'd like a more detailed walkthrough of the procedure, see How to switch off Apple Music auto-renewal and end your free trial.
How to set up Apple Music on your Mac
Set up on a Mac requires OS 10.10.3 and is similar to the set up described above. If you have already set up Apple Music on your iPhone or iPad you won't need to go through the set up on your Mac, and vice versa, as it will be linked to your Apple ID.
You need to enable the use of the iCloud Music library on all the devices you intend to use on it - you will see an alert when you first open Apple Music/iTunes - if you originally said no, don’t worry, there’s a way to enable it manually.
On your iPhone, open Settings > Music and toggle on the iCloud Music Library option under the Library subheading. For iTunes, open your Preferences > General > make sure the “iCloud Music Library” option is ticked, and click ok. Your music should start to sync soon after!
Will I be able to get Apple Music on any other devices?
As well as the Mac, iPad and iPhone, you can listen to Apple Music on the Apple Watch, Apple TV and iPod touch. Apple Music is also available via iTunes on the PC. It will be arriving on Apple TV later this year and there is even an Android app.
In order to ensure that, when your three-month trial is over, you won't be charged, you'll need to go to your email account connected to your Apple ID and click on the email that you've received from the iTunes Store confirming your subscription.
There is a link at the bottom of that email that reads "Manage subscriptions." Click that, and if prompted, sign in with your Apple ID.
There, you'll want to slide Automatic Renewal to 'Off'. Now, you won't be charged for Apple Music when your free trial runs out.
If you can't find the confirmation email, there's another way to access your subscriptions. Simply tap on the profile icon in the top left-hand corner of the Apple Music app, tap “View Apple ID”, then tap “Manage Subscriptions” and then turn off the auto-renewal. It’s that easy!
Once you finish your initial three-month trial, Apple will start to charge you either £9.99 a month for a single account or £14.99 a month for a family sharing account. While we will have to start paying for Apple's streaming service eventually, there is a loophole that'll allow for an extra three months of free music. How? It's a lot simpler than you might think.
When your initial 90-day trial is over, you can use a workaround involving Apple's Family Sharing to extend your free trial to six months. This is done by heading to Settings > iCloud and tapping 'Set up Family Sharing' and following the prompts on the screen. The idea is simple - invite a family member that hasn't yet activated their three-month Apple music trial, and once they accept the invite and activate the Family Sharing Apple Music plan, it'll be available to all family members.
It's worth noting that unless your family member wants to start paying £14.99 a month for Apple's Family Sharing music plan after the three-month extension, you'll want to toggle the automatic renewal off in the same way as described above.
Does an Apple Music subscription give you access to the entire iTunes catalogue?
Unfortunately not – while there’s a whopping 43 million songs available for download on iTunes, only (and we use that term lightly) 30 million songs are available on Apple Music.
With this being said, the library is still huge and will most likely feature your favourite songs – there are only a handful of noticeable missing artists, including The Beatles and Prince. It even features Taylor Swift’s album, 1989, which isn’t available on any other streaming service.
Does the iCloud Music Library use up my iCloud allowance?
This is a question that we were asked on Twitter, and after a bit of investigation we can confirm that no, enabling the iCloud Music Library won’t eat up any of your iCloud storage allowance.
Personalising Apple Music: Choosing genres and artists in Apple Music
The first thing you'll need to do once you've started your free Apple Music trial is tell Apple what you like so that it can pick out recommendations it thinks you'll enjoy.
In the early days of Apple Music their were complaints that the recommendations were off the mark, but over time the recommendations get better as Apple leans more about your tastes.
You'll first be asked to choose genres you like from a series pinkish bubbles. Tap them once to say you like them, twice to say you love them, and if you really dislike them and don't want them to appear at all, tap and hold to remove them.
If you think you've chosen wrong, you can press Reset in the bottom left corner. You can always go back and change your choices later.
Once you're done, you'll see a similar page that now asks you to choose three or more artists that you like. You can double tap the ones you love like before, but holding to remove proved to be a pointless task because artists we removed kept reappearing. You can tap more artists if you think the selection chosen isn't to your tastes.
Tapping done once you've chosen your favourites will take you to the For You page, where you can get started with Apple Music.
Now that you've set up Apple Music, you can visit our complete guide to using Apple Music or check out our FAQ below.
As well as the individual membership packages (standard Individual, for £9.99 a month, and Student, for £4.99), Apple Music offers a Family plan for up to six people, which costs £14.99 per month. Here, we explain the differences and help you work out whether the Family option is right for you.
It's worth noting that the three-month free trial is available for either membership, so you don't have to commit to paying for the service until September or October (depending on when you signed up).
In order to take advantage of the Family membership of Apple Music, you'll need to use Family Sharing, which means youwill be the named account holder on the account, and any transactions on iTunes or the App Store will be charged to you. Therefore it's not a solution for sharing membership with friends, unless you are very generous about paying for all their Apple purchases.
All six of the accounts need to be linked up to one credit card, which means any purchases can be shared. But of course, that means who ever owns that credit card will have to pick up the bill for anything any of the six people on the plan purchases.
So yes, technically you can use the Family membership of Apple Music with friends, but they'll all be able to buy apps, TV shows, books, music and more using your credit card, so it's definitely not ideal.
Complete guide to Apple Music: How to use Apple Music
We have an in-depth feature explaining how to use Apple Music here: How to use Apple Music in the UK: Complete guide to Apple Music's features.
Below are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions.
How to save music to listen offline
Streaming such a huge library of music to your iPhone sounds like a great idea, especially for those of us that are conscious of the amount of storage available on our devices. However, there’s also a downside to music streaming, especially over a cellular connection with data limits. There’s a workaround available though, as Apple offer the ability to “offline” as many songs and playlists as you want for the times when you have no data connection.
If you want to save a song or playlist for offline use, simply tap the 3 dots next to the song/playlist and tap “Make available offline”. Depending on how many songs are being downloaded, it can take a few minutes for the process to complete – but you should be able to see the download progress from within the Apple Music app to give you some idea of its status.
It’s important to note that even though the music is being saved locally, that doesn’t make it yours. It's is DRM-locked unless you buy the track. You won’t be able to export the files for use anywhere else (video projects, burning CDs, etc), and if your Apple Music subscription is cancelled, all the files will be deleted from your devices.
How to start playing tracks like a song you like
You can create your own radio station based on a favourite song or artist. Find the song you like and tap … and then select Start Station.
How can you find out what you were listening to in Apple Music?
If you have been listening to music all afternoon you may later think that you’d like to download some of those tracks. When we first started using Apple Music we thought that it didn’t appear to display your listening history. However, it does, you just beed to click on the list icon beside the forward and rewind buttons to go to the Up Next screen – scroll back and you will see all the tracks you have listened to.
Another thing you can do if you hear a track you love, is mark it by tapping on the heart icon. Except that if you thought you'd later be able to locate all the tracks you marked in this way, you can’t! Or at least if you can we haven’t discovered it yet.
The strange thing is that if you have a Smart Playing called Recently Played you will find some of the tracks you have played on Apple Music there, but not all of them. We can’t figure out why only some of our recently played tracks are showing up here.
How to build a playlist in Apple Music
You can build playlists with both the music you already own and tracks you find on Apple Music. Start by creating a new playlist (if you are on your iPhone you need to go to Playlists and then tap New, then find the track you like and tap on the … to get to the menu and select Add to a Playlist… You can then locate the playlist you set up and add the track to it.
How to create an offline playlist
Find the playlist you wish to download (see how to create a playlist above) tap on the … and choose Make Available Offline.
You’ll be able to see what music you have on your device available to listen to offline if you go to the My Music view and then tap on the word Albums in the middle of the screen (this could also say Artists, Songs or any number of other classifications). The select show Music Available Offline. This way you won’t accidentally try and play something that isn’t on your device (another way to make sure you don’t accidentally stream something over 3G/4G is to go to Settings > Cellular > and toggle the button next to Music to off.
How to create a playlist in Apple Music to share with a friend
Create a playlist as you would normally (see above). Go to My Music > Playlists > New > Add Songs, and pick your tracks. Click on the … icon next to the playlist and choose Share Playlist. You can choose to share via Messages, Mail, Twitter, Facebook and other ways, or you can choose to copy the link and send it to them another way.
It’s a similar process in iTunes on the Mac.
When your recipient clicks on the link it will open up the playlist in Apple Music and they will be able to listen to the tracks you have chosen.
Complete guide to Apple Music: Apple Music specs and details
Apple Music FAQ: What’s the music quality like?
Let's talk about music quality – Apple Music boasts 256kbps music streaming, which falls into line with the streaming quality of iTunes Match. While this level of quality is fine for most people and won’t consume too much data, it’s worth noting that both Beats Music (ironically) and Spotify both offer a slightly higher quality bitrate at 320kbps.
Apple Music FAQ: How much data does music streaming consume when using 4G?
So if you don’t want to offline all your favourite songs, how much data does music streaming consume? We ran tests at the Macworld UK office and we found that when using a 4G connection, the data consumption for music streaming was around 1.65MB per minute, which equates to around 49.5MB of data per half an hour.
Interestingly, we also found out that streaming Apple’s Beats 1 radio station via a 4G connection uses more data than standard music streaming. We found that Beats 1 uses around 2.61MB of data per minute, which is equal to around 78.3MB of data per half an hour. We’re not too sure as to why streaming Beats 1 uses more data as Apple streams all its content at 256kbps, but it’s definitely something to keep in mind if you’ve got a capped data limit on your contract.
According to a Reddit post, streaming 30 minutes of music uses about 20MB of data (regardless of whether it’s Beats 1 or just a playlist), and an hour of streaming uses about 40MB of data. This suggests that streaming Apple Music for 24 hours via a mobile connection will cost you about 1GB of data.
Complete guide to Apple Music: Beats & iTunes Radio
What's the difference between Beats 1 and Apple Music radio?
Under the Radio menu of Apple Music, you have access to both Beats 1 and a number of other radio stations. What are the differences between the two? Beats 1 is more of a traditional radio station, with DJs broadcasting 24/7 in over 100 countries around the world. The main three Beats 1 DJs are ex-BBC radio host Zane Lowe from Los Angeles, Hot 97 DJ Ebro Darden from New York and Rinse FM’s Julie Adenuga from London. It offers a combination of music, interviews with musicians and discussions of popular news.
Apple Music radio stations are slightly different. These aren’t traditional radio stations with a DJ presenting, but rather playlists of songs that you can listen to and skip/pause the music. In the past (with iTunes Radio) Apple has relied upon algorithms and beat-matching to produce playlists, however with Apple Music radio stations, the company has taken a different approach.
With Apple Music radio stations, Apple has employed a number of staff to curate the playlists themselves, handpicking songs from the vast library available to them. The end result is a better blend of music that flows between songs without making you think, “why is that being played?”
Do I have to pay for a subscription to Apple Music to listen to Beats 1?
What about if you’re a Spotify user that wants to enjoy the Beats 1 radio station? Can you still listen to it without subscribing to Apple Music? The good news is that anybody with an Apple ID can access both the Beats 1 radio station and Apple Music’s radio stations for free, with no need for a subscription.
However, there’s a slight catch. Apple Music’s radio stations will be ad-supported to non-Apple Music subscribers, and the number of skips will be limited. This doesn’t apply to Beats 1 though, as it’s one station for both non-subscribers and subscribers alike.
Are there any other Beats radio stations?
I’m not a fan of Beats because they don’t play my sort of music (too mainstream) so I’ve been hoping that Apple would launch some alternative Beats channels. Sure the company already has the iTunes Radio ‘channels’ that you can find in Radio. Featured stations include Charting Now and Pop Hits, but you’ll also find Alternative, Classical, Electronic, Rock, and World, for example. You can also create a ‘Radio Station’ based on any track you choose, which is a great way of finding similar music.
However, there may be more Beats radio stations in the pipeline. A Verge report suggests that these additional channels could be placed around the world, providing live broadcasting 24 hours a day (Beats 1 is only live for 12 hours a day).
We hope that these new Beats channels will cater for more varied music tastes.
How can I add songs from Beats 1 to my playlists?
So you’re listening to the Beats 1 radio station and hear a great song that you want to add to your library, how can you do that? As long as the song is still being played, you can tap the More button (three dots) and tap “Add to My Music” or “Add to a Playlist” to quickly add it to your music collection.
How do I request a song for Beats 1?
If you’ve taken a look at the Beats 1 schedule, you’ll probably have noticed that there are shows where you can request songs to be played on the air. So, how do you send your request to the guys at Beats 1? Apple has set up a number of phone lines around the world that you can call to request music – it’s probably worth noting that only some are toll free however:
- US and World: +1 (310) 299-8756
- US (Toll free): +1 (877) 720-6293
- Canada (Toll free): +1 855-648-0703
- UK (Toll free): +44 800 802 1238
- France: +33 9 75 18 21 60
- Japan: +81 3-4589-5123
- Germany: +49 1573 5982361
- Brazil: +55 11 4950-1098
- Mexico: +52 81 4170 3626
- Dominican Republic: +1 829-956-5158
- Australia: +61 2 8294 5836
- Italy: +39 02 9475 1288
- Ireland: +353 76 680 5749
- New Zealand: +64 9-887 8360
If you thought you’d be speaking to a member of the Beats 1 team when you call, you’d be wrong. When you call the request hotline, you’ll be greeted with an automated voice prompting you to say your name, where you’re from, what you’re up to and what song you want to hear. This recording will then be played on the air if your request is chosen!
Is there a way to transfer my playlists from Spotify to Apple Music?
While there is a way for Beats Music users to quickly transfer their music library to Apple Music, the same can’t be said for the likes of Spotify, Tidal or any other music streaming provider. As it stands, the only way you’ll be able to access all your Spotify playlists on Apple Music is if you manually search for each song and rebuild them yourself.