I've enjoyed streaming music services such as Grooveshark (killed by a rights holder lawsuit this year), Spotify, Deezer ever since Pandora kicked off in 2000, as an internet radio station.

Yes, the streaming music thing started about fifteen years' ago, and now it's Apple's turn to have a go at it, with its Music service.

The initial impression after just over a week's use of Apple Music is that they've done a fairly good job, but there are plenty of glitches to iron out and the user interface can be confusing.

First, an important tip in case you've not seen it already: if you don't want the Apple Music subscription to go into paid mode automatically after the three-month trial expires, do this on an iPhone or iPad:


• Hit the red silhouette inside a circle to go to your profile
• Tap on View Apple ID
• Sign in to the iTunes Store (you have to do it manually, the TouchID fingerprint doesn't work for some reason)
• Find the Subscriptions field and tap on Manage
• Under "Your Membership", find the "Automatic Renewal" option and turn it off.


There's a colossal amount of music available on Apple's streaming service - a claimed thirty million tunes (I didn't count them) - and much of the stuff I like and which has people screaming "TURN THAT OFF" in thirty seconds flat is available.

Oh dear. Apple Music tries to guess Juha's taste in music.
Oh dear. Apple Music tries to guess Juha's taste in music.

I was also pleased to see a fairly decent catalogue of classical music; am still burrowing through what's available on Apple Music and still working out how to assess the quality of the library with millions songs.

Finding songs in Apple Music isn't difficult, luckily, and it's easy to build playlists that can be shared with other users.

The recommendations under the "For You" button work pretty well, and are relevant after you've trained Apple Music by tapping bubbles on the screen with music genres; finding something different involves clicking on the "New" button and checking out the different musical genres.

That said, I'd be happier with a simpler interface with more obvious controls to poke at on the screen. Apple actually ran introduction and presentation sessions for journalists and that's a good thing, because some of the features in Music are well-hidden.

Apple's integrated Music with both the iOS mobile and the OS X desktop operating systems so no separate app is needed and it's possible to sync music with different devices over iCloud. You can set Apple Music to be your morning alarm thanks to the integration.


Even Siri has received a smidgen of Apple Music smarts, and I think it's my favourite feature. You can now tell the personal digital assistant to play music by artists, specific songs (although if the title is too generic, this might not work), film soundtracks and even ask Siri to put together a playlist based the current song.

There's a social network of sorts in Apple Music, Connect, for err, connecting with artists. I guess some artists have witty and important things to share with their audiences, but Connect seems a bit pointless overall.

The Beats 1 Radio that features New Zealand DJ Zane Lowe in Los Angeles, Ebro Darden in New York City and Julie Ardenuga in London is... interesting for a bit, but not something I'd want to listen to for a longer period of time. There's a good selection of genres on Beats 1 but I think I'd rather have programs or segments with specific types of music than mixing it all up 24-7.

Apple were coy as to how much bandwidth Music uses, saying only that it adjusts the quality to the connection; the songs appear to be encoded with 256 kilobit per second bit rate AAC.

The streaming tunes sounded pretty good, but the Beats 1 music audio can be flat and harsh; the videos that accompany some songs on Apple Music are small, and buffer a lot even on my fast broadband service.

One big plus is the ability to make songs available for offline listening while on home broadband, so you don't kill your miserly 4G data cap and can listen to music without a network connection.

Offline listening and a set of other features disappear once you're out of the three-month free trial. After that, it's $13/month for individual subscriptions, or $20 for families with up to six members. That's not too bad, but it'd be nice if Apple could offer an annual discounted rate as well.

At this point in time, I'd be annoyed if I had paid for Apple Music. The app crashed several times on an iPad running iOS 8.4, and it also hung or stopped responding.

Often, you'd search and find an artist, and then try to stream the album only for Apple Music to ignore you and force you to go back and try again.

It's still early days, and Apple will no doubt push out bug fixes to deal with the glitches in Music. Will I subscribe after the three month trial ends? That depends on what Apple's competition comes up with to counter Music. Watch this space.