alistairphillips.com

I’m : a web and mobile developer based in the Manning Valley, Australia.


Apple Music - Day 0

I've been signed up to Apple Music for most of the day and have been putting it through its paces. Some things work really well whereas other areas seem to be in need of serious work.

The good

Congratulations to Apple as it seems their cloud services have held up to the onslaught of people signing up. By the time I switched it on at around 4am this morning (don't ask) enabling the service went through without a hitch. The first thing I did was stream Taylor Swift's 1989 album which, it turns out, I quite like.

Up until now I've been using Google Play Music (all access) so have had to resort to using a web browser when I wanted to listen to music while at my Mac. I'm not a huge fan of web-based apps and prefer a native counterpart wherever possible but, as we all know, Google is mostly native-phobic. With Apple however we don't even have a web component (no tears shed there) but are able to play everything within iTunes on the Mac/PC.

Adding music was a breeze and downloading tracks for offline playback was super fast. No complaints there but unfortunately that's where the compliments stop.

The bad

Sync

Sync, they say, is hard and it looks like Apple are having issues as well. I've got a smart playlist set up to return music between 3 and 5 stars that I haven't listened to in the last 3 months. I like to make sure I'm giving all my tracks a listen to every now and again so this is my goto playlist. Never had an issue with it pre-cloud but sadly can't say that after today.

My iPad reports 300 songs in the playlist, the iPhone 267 and the Mac 286. I don't know who is right anymore or why things are so out of sync. Something I've listened to on my Mac will sometimes be marked as played on the iPhone but generally not. I've listened to tracks on the iPhone and not had iTunes pick up on the changes.

But more worrying is why are the numbers so different? What holds the truth?

iTunes seems to have decided that it's no longer going to upload items either and my library is littered with the dotted outline of clouds. Trying to get info on the file warns me that I could lose data as the file hasn't finished processing. Only problem is I don't know how to kick iTunes into restarting whatever it was it needs to do.

Search

Not surprisingly it isn't much different from the App Store (and we know how that is) but at least there we have autocomplete. Having that for Apple Music would, I think, help when you're trying to find something. Apple you should try the search within Google Play Music to see what the experience could be like.

UI

Exceedingly confusing. I'd like to think I know my way around iOS and OS X but wow Apple Music within iTunes is a mix of different UI styles and ways to access data. How do you even get a list of all songs by an artist?

What's with the heart? Does it actually do anything? I'd have thought that maybe it would add items to my library or help train the brain in the cloud but who knows as I can't figure it out.

I'm certainly not alone https://www.reddit.com/r/apple/comments/3boryo/im_just_going_to_say_it/.

Offline Playlists

The nice thing about syncing your playlists with iTunes was that you could always count on the files being on your iPhone or iPad. Alas now we're dealing with the cloud so even though items appear in there you'd got to specifically go in and take the playlist offline. That's a huge pain and we really should have an option to specify that the playlist is always available offline.

I know everyone says we're living in the age of ubiquitous WiFi and heaps of cellular data but the real world is different. Perhaps Silicon Valley is like that but here in Australia, and most other places, cellular data is still at a premium. The last thing I want to do is to second guess myself as to whether or not I'll be able to play my music on the go.

Here's hoping that Apple can do something to resolve these issues within the 3 month trial and that at the very least I haven't lost any data to The Cloud.