Apple’s focus on services isn’t trivial and the company is plotting big improvements to its cross-platform Apple Music service, reports Bloomberg, in claims echoed by “chatter” picked up by UK music business consultancy, MusicAlly.
Apple already has 13 million Apple Music subscribers, including users on multiple platforms. Bloomberg this morning informs the company will reveal a more intuitive client app this June.
The company is expected to reveal:
- A new and more intuitive user interface
- Better integration between streaming and download services
- Expansion of its online radio service
“Apple is altering the user interface of Apple Music to make it more intuitive to use, according to people familiar with the product who asked not to be identified because the plans aren’t public. Apple also plans to better integrate its streaming and download businesses and expand its online radio service, the people said.” Source: Bloomberg.
“Music Ally’s sources have been suggesting both of these things – a significantly-improved user interface and an upcoming marketing blitz – in recent weeks, following behind-the-scenes briefings from Apple,” Source: MusicAlly.
The report also reveals Apple’s Music teams have been in a state of some flux as Beats and iTunes teams combine, marked by political complexities and staff attrition.
The internal management structure has recently been redefined, in response to some role confusion. A legion of over 1,000 people now works on Apple’s music offerings, so these attempts are far from trivial.
What is planned?
Expansion of the online radio service could be quite interesting. This may mean more DJs for Beats1, or could suggest the company may introduce more radio channels designed to cater for different tastes – a dedicated rock or metal channel, for example. Interestingly, Bloomberg reports that while Apple Music subscription sales are up, they have not cannibalized standard iTunes sales, which remain steady at around $3.5 billion/year.
The company has used Beats1 to promote its service, alongside through exclusive artist deals, advertising and is reported to also be developing exclusive TV shows and movies for the future. The company has also long been expected to provide a similar service for movies and video.
What improvements make sense?
Returning to the music, it seems a no brainer to speculate that Apple will in future deploy its Proactive contextual intelligence across Apple Music with technologies designed to automatically figure out music suggestions in response to what it knows users are doing at any moment of the day (on a bike, at work, in the gym, for example).
Personalization also means Apple may be looking to emulate popular Spotify features such as the Year of Music system which lets music fans study their listening habits in the year. Increased contextual analysis may also be part of the plan in the event the company plans to introduce a free ad-supported Apple Music streaming service in future, growing its reach.
In terms of usability, it is to be hoped the company will look to making music and music recommendations sharable across platforms and services, with Apple Music as source. It could achieve this by improving Playlist export/import.
Also read: 10+ Apple Music tips you’ll use
The company should also unify Apple Music/My Music search. It must also make it much easier (and plainer) to access an offline mode. This could potentially include the capacity to automatically store a user’s most popular songs on the device so those who don’t understand the need to store songs on the device before going offline have something to listen to when they do. Search by label, engineer and lyric sheets would also be welcome improvements.
Ultimately it is to be hoped iTunes will be broken up into separate applications, for Apps, Movies, Music and iTunes More, for example. Read more suggestions here.
One more thing: I would be completely unsurprised if Siri suddenly learned how to rewind tracks just a few seconds so you can listen to a section again, as that’s incredibly popular on the Apple TV.
What improvements to Apple Music would you like to see?
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