TL;DR — I thought Apple Music would lead to a lesser enjoyment of the Music app for non-subscribers. There are a number of annoyances, with the main ones being the complete uselessness of the ‘For You’ button and no way to get back if you accidentally tap on something that requires a subscription. There are reminders sprinkled throughout that you’re not a subscriber.
However, on the whole I find it to be a major improvement over the previous version of the app, with my favourite features being; search that works well, the restoration of the album list view, and getting rid of the silly landscape mosaic view.
After seeing screenshots of the new iOS 8.4 Music app with Apple Music, a major concern was with how people without a subscription were going to be treated. I have a fairly large music library that lives on my home server and have been using iTunes Match to manage it for years now.
The cost of the latter service is A$35 a year, so going to A$12 a month (A$18 for family, which is probably the better comparison given we all use Match) for Apple Music is a rather significant step up… which I’m not sure I can be bothered justifying.
So here’s a quick review of how the Music app ends up if you don’t have a subscription, but if you do have iTunes Match. (I reserve the right to update the post if I’m wrong on something, I’m lazy like that. Send through the corrections…)
First impressions is that there are these top-level ways of finding something, which then lead you to . For many, music listening revolves around artists (I’m a full-album kinda guy),
Here’s how each of the tabs treat you…
Not really a tab, but with a large library this is my #1 way of finding what I want to listen to. Very happy with the improvements here.
You have the option to switch between ‘Apple Music’ and ‘My Music’. Leave it to the right, and all is well.
This is an updated view of what we’re used to from the old Music app. The default view is by artist. When you tap on one, it takes you to the artist page, and note the three tabs: All, My Music, Connect.
All will show all the artist’s music, as per the iTunes Store. If you don’t have a subscription and don’t already have the song/album in your library, you will see the Apple Music signup screen (see ‘For You’ next). Otherwise it will play.
With My Music selected it will show and play your local and iTunes Match tunes. (The Connect tab will show the artist’s view in Connect, although this is currently glitching and wouldn’t show for me again after taking this screenshot.)
A note here, the view with a list of albums (without the songs listed underneath) has been restored. We lost this with iOS 7 and it was a major pain for anyone with a large number of albums from the one artist. Small wins.
A quick aside again here. Music finally adds the ‘up next’ playlist functionality that’s been in desktop iTunes for a while now. So when you’re DJing the road trip, you can queue up a stack of songs without having to go through the rigmarole of creating a playlist.
Tap on the ellipsis next to a track or album to bring up the menu. ‘Play Next’ does what it says on the packet and will play the song next, while ‘Add to Up Next’ adds it to the end of the songs you’ve queued.
Not accessible without an Apple Music subscription. At all. Boo.
You’ll be seeing a bit of the screenshot at left anytime you need something that requires a subscription.
A nod to us cheapskates would to have a ‘Back’ button here. As it is, you’ve lost your place. Pay up like a good drone.
You can browse the view of what’s ‘New’, which seems not much more than the existing iTunes Store music view, only you get the dreaded sign-up screen rather than a buy option when you tap.
As far as I can tell, Radio is fully accessible to non-subscribers. You can listen to Beats1 as well as a dozen or so genre-dedicated stations. The Metal station’s already given me a few tracks I’ve not heard and rather enjoy, and you can hit the “play more (less) like this” buttons.
There’s a buy button underneath the track in the Now Playing view, same as it used to be. Presumably if you have a subscription this becomes ‘Get’ instead.
You can “Start Station” from almost any track, and this seems to work without a sub. You have a limited number of song skips though, so the difference seems to be less control over what you can hear.
This is meant to be the new social platform to communicate with artists or some-such. It seems accessible without a subscription, but my understanding that this is meant to be monetised somehow…