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Apple Music – my 1st big love but is it still my favourite?

It’s an app I use every day yet I rarely talk about it – so today I put that right!

Apple Music - and the classic iPod

Time to make an admission

Apple Music as it turns out was my entry Apple drug!

It suddenly struck me today that it was that app which was the first Apple service, product or device I’d ever used. And to make matters worse, I didn’t even use it on a Mac but a Sony Vaio! There you go – I’m a fake – years ago I used PCs.

Oddly going back to the late 90s and early 2000s I wasn’t a computer or tech nerd which kind of explains why I bought a generic Sony laptop. But the one thing I do have to thank it for was that it was the first time I downloaded & installed iTunes as it was back then. Everything was about to change for me…

I can still clearly remember a friend telling me about this thing called iTunes and how I’d love it.

Turns out he was right…

Wide-eyed

I do smile as I think back how in awe I was of importing CDs to that laptop and seeing them appear on screen ready to play. I already had plenty of CDs so I began to import them one by one building up my library. Those early days are probably why I still favour Apple Music now over Spotify…

As I said, Apple Music was my gateway into Apple’s walled garden. Not long after installing iTunes, I wanted to take my digital music with me so began my first Apple hardware purchases with iPods.

I think over a few years I had pretty much all of them – Nano, Mini, Shuffle and a Touch which I pretended was an iPhone! I also owned a Classic as well which was just a thing of total beauty. Sadly it got stolen and I never replaced it, but the chunky, simple design had me sold. It’s amazing to think how things have moved at pace in the past two decades – back then 10Gb of storage seemed huge!

This is where Apple are so clever though. I was pulled into their ecosystem because of iTunes. Had it not been for that, I’d never have bought those iPods and possibly my odyssey in Apple may never have started.

Drip drip

The journey then became almost inevitable and predictable.

Next was time to transition away from my Blackberry. I’d heard how the iPhone was kind of a hybrid – part iPod & part iPhone. Any music I ripped into my laptop would as if by magic be available on my iPhone. Well, I was sold – out with the iPod and welcome to the new era of the iPhone.

Next was my first Mac. It was the obvious next step as all the music I was building up in my Apple Music (iTunes) library would be ready and waiting for me on my Mac. As it turned out, that story was one of mixed blessings though.

I rushed home with my MacBook Air and tried to sign into my Apple Music account only to find it was too big for the internal storage on my lovely new Mac – I was gutted, but it every cloud…

It was the first time I had experienced Apple’s aftercare. Having gone back to the store they came up with a workaround – ok it meant buying an external hard drive, but they re-mapped my library to that drive and I was on my way and have never looked back.

Plenty more Macs have followed over the years and Apple Music has been one of the first apps that I sign into and get up & running. As you set up a new Mac you need music to keep you company right, so it seems a logical place to start.

Suits me

The big selling point for me has always been the ‘iTunes’ legacy or part of Apple Music.

The fact I can rip CDs or even vinyl and add it to my library is massively important to me. Sure, much of what I want to listen to I can find on Apple Music and stream, but much of my huge collection is just not available online.

Unlike Spotify, my Apple Music is mine and that is priceless.

I have never spent that much time on Spotify but everyone tells me how the algorithm is stunningly good picking out track after track for you to listen to. Spotify’s biggest selling points seem to be that function combined with its playlists.

All very impressive I know, but how about if you have a reasonable knowledge of your music library and know what you want to listen to? Rarely do I open up Apple Music without knowing what I am in the mood for – I tend to tell it rather than needing it to tell me. I’m sure for some that’s a useful feature, but for me, it just doesn’t wash.

Getting better

Apple heard that its music app needed some updating and love thrown at it and has responded by the bucket load over recent years.

The quality of the audio has always been at the heart of Apple Music and that has been perfectly demonstrated with the additions of Spatial Audio, Dolby Atmos and lossless audio. I have tried other streaming apps like Tidal and although the audio quality is great, it lacks the other functionality that Apple Music offers.

And the improvements carry on this year as we edge nearer to iOS17. Apple Music is to get some great new features. Taking a lesson from Spotify, Collaborative Playlists are coming to the app so soon a group of you can create a playlist. That will dovetail neatly into the SharePlay for CarPlay Apple wants to foster the idea of family and friends making Apple Music more community-based.

Many Apple Music lovers and devoted users have been calling for Crossfade to come to the app, and finally later this year with iOS 17 that wish becomes a reality. The UI will get a makeover and you’ll even be able to use your camera along with Apple Music Sing to give it an almost Karaoke feel.

And then there’s Apple Classical and Podcasts. Separating those into their own apps is genius. It just makes for a simpler listener experience.

Wrapping up

How could I possibly have known all those years back that downloading and installing Apple Music would steer the course of what I’d end up doing every day?

It’s only with the age-old benefit of hindsight that I can look back and realise that I was putty in Apple’s hands and prime for the taking. I had a love of music and a largie’ish collection of music. That single chink in my armour was all that Apple needed to get their claws into me. I realise that sounds as if I’m miffed by it, but I’m not.

Apple has always delivered what I needed from them whether that’s creatively or recreationally. I work on Macs all day, exercise with Apple Podcasts or Apple Music and relax with Apple TV and HomePods.

For me, the fact that whatever I want is wherever I need it I love. The complete synergy of what Apple offers me makes my day and my life better.

Other companies make good phones, laptops, music players, speakers or cloud storage systems, but I can’t think of another one that does it all under one umbrella.

Apple Music and iTunes won me over – all Apple did was subtly steer me down the path and show me how simple everything could be under their roof. I’ve not regretted my choice for a day and the fact it has led to the point where I can sit and write and make videos about them is just the cherry on the cake.

iTunes – thank you!

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