Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Apple Music: Taking a dump on a butterfly

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  • Tony Siu,

    I waited 2 hours for the 4 gb update (haven't done it in the while, with Xcode and Garageband too) with starts and stop. No wonder they didn't roll Everything out at once (with Apple TV later in the fall - remember iOS 7 rollout?). The playlist was a nightmare. I picked classical and rap and then got Taylor Siwft as the 'artist I want to check out'. Sigh.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2008 • 82 posts Report Reply

  • Shaun Lott,

    I’m inclined to think the problem is iCloud

    I'm inclined to think you're right. In my experience, iCloud remains a dog's breakfast, with lots of unpredictable and unintuitive behaviours. To be avoided.

    Waitakere • Since Aug 2009 • 109 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    iCloudius...

    basic taste paramaters

    sounds positively Oedipal...

    Russell, it seems the odious iPal has taken out not only your equanimity but your spellcheck library as well
    :- )

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7880 posts Report Reply

  • mike.t,

    The absence of home sharing is pretty frustrating for those of us with large collections on the home Mac and use their other idevices to play it around the house...

    Auckland • Since May 2011 • 3 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Hmmm. Bad bug ...

    Just playing an album and several times the track progress has caught up with the stream. At which point, the track stops and the player flips to the next track on the list.

    Gah.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22743 posts Report Reply

  • matthewbuchanan,

    I’m scared to even try. I long-ago abandoned a purchased iTunes music library for Rdio, and its social features have kept me pretty well stocked with music recommendations from people I follow there. And it’s not all streaming either — the native mobile apps for Rdio (and I believe Spotify) let you sync actual song files for offline play, which is a nice halfway house.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 163 posts Report Reply

  • Moz,

    You're not selling me on the iSuck experience, Russell. I'm waiting for a 256GB uSD card to arrive so I can reconvert my FLAC to higher quality ogg than is currently on my phone. That way I can have almost my whole library available, this time at a quality I can't distinguish from the FLAC (limitations of the phone). Luckily my music library is growing more slowly than the increase in phone memory. Well, non-Apple phone memory, anyway.

    In Australia, that 256GB card will cost me the difference between my current data plan and a 6GB/mo plan for nearly 4 months. Streaming FLAC 6GB is only about 10 hours of music. I listen to that most days... the economics just aren't there. I'd rather pay musicians for music anyway, rather than piddle for each stream and salaries for the parasites.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 1177 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to matthewbuchanan,

    And it’s not all streaming either — the native mobile apps for Rdio (and I believe Spotify) let you sync actual song files for offline play, which is a nice halfway house.

    Allegedly, Apple Music does that too. Just in a really difficult way.

    Buying lossless files from Bleep.com seems quite good right now, if much more expensive.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22743 posts Report Reply

  • Eediot,

    Once the novelty of selecting bouncing balls of artists I liked over a coffee, and listening to a recommended Thelonius Monk track, had worn off, I went back to Rdio Premium which does pretty much everything you outlined and everything I need.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2011 • 51 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Status update:

    On the Mac, I've established that I can:

    1. Click "Add to My Music" on an album in Apple Music.

    2. Once back in My Music, select all the tracks and choose the old-fangled "Create playlist from selection".

    3. Locate the playlist and drag it up the column into the folder where I actually want it to be.

    That's two steps too many.

    On my phone, the requirement for iCloud Music Library to be switched on remains an absolute showstopper when it comes to adding to My Music anything I might want to listen to repeatedly. Just can't do it.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22743 posts Report Reply

  • jb,

    created by at least two distinct interest groups within Apple

    I just wish that was a SINGLE interest group within Apple focusing on platform consistency and international usability.
    Case in point: Nzer living in Germany. I’d like iOS to replicate OSX in its core settings – language, date format and currency.
    To get the week to start on a Monday, I have to select the UK as my region, forcing me to tolerate £ a my default currency.
    And try traveling and setting up appointments/conference calls in different time zones. Can of worms and yet it worked perfectly in PalmOS….

    a.small.town.in.germany • Since Jan 2007 • 86 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Lost masterpieces: ©olon Mac©ahon’s ‘iAm’©…
    @ RB’s:

    That’s two steps too many.

    + jb’s:

    Can of worms and yet it worked perfectly in PalmOS….

    which all reminds me of David Pogue’s TED Talk ’Simplicity sells’:

    I actually got to speak to Palm when they were flying high in the ‘90s, and after the talk, I met one of the employees. He says, “Nice talk.” And I said, “Thank you, what do you do here?” He said, “I’m a tap counter.” I’m like, “You’re a what?” He goes, “Well, Jeff Hawkins, the CEO, says, ’If any task on the Palm Pilot takes more than three taps of the stylus, it’s too long, and it has to be redesigned.’ So I’m the tap counter."

    Here in its entirety {an entertaining and informative 21 minutes, and probably proof that Apple getting into bed with MicroLimp, er Soft, was a retrograde and counterintuitive step):

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7880 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Bell,

    Allow me to shit on your parade: switch to Google.

    Wellington, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 167 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    I've updated the post to note that, on inspection, I've realised that my desktop iTunes is now full of randomly duplicated (even triplicated!) playlists.

    I've seen suggestions that having been an iTunes Match customer is part of the problem. Fortunately, I don't seem to have had my matched tracks replaced with DRM-hobbled Apple Music ones, like one poor guy on the internet.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22743 posts Report Reply

  • Marcelo Rodriguez Ferrere,

    Build some kind of persistence into Apple Music itself, like any other streaming service has. It's absurd that I can't easily revisit albums and playlists I've saved (or even listened to) within the service itself.

    +1

    The sheer size of the Apple Music library is its obvious strength, but boy is it difficult to make proper use of it. I actually really like the selections that are coming up in the Apple generated playlists (e.g. 'Inspired By: Artist X) in 'For You' and the Radio stations (e.g. Artist X Radio) but can't for the life of me see the difference between them, apart from the fact you can see what's coming up next in the playlist, but not the radio, even if it'll remember your place when you stopped listening to the latter. However, even though they are functional equivalents, they have very different features: you can see what you've listened to on the radio - and add tracks to your library - but can't add tracks from playlists or the playlists themselves to your library. Why?

    I agree that it's the insistence on trying to integrate it with the existing iTunes UI that's the problem - it really does need its own standalone setup. I like the depth, but its execution is totally undermining the potential of Apple Music at present.

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 33 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    Pogue has a review of Apple Music and finds fault with the lack of simplicity, but declares: "The good news is that all of this works flawlessly on day one."

    Er, no, it doesn't. It does seem that most of the reviews so far have been very superficial.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22743 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Marcelo Rodriguez Ferrere,

    However, even though they are functional equivalents, they have very different features: you can see what you've listened to on the radio - and add tracks to your library - but can't add tracks from playlists or the playlists themselves to your library. Why?

    Odd. I can do both via the "..." menu.

    But Apple, why on earth can I not add a playlist to a playlist folder? Why would I have to add a playlist to a playlist?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22743 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    taking a dump* on a butterfly

    I get it, it's more steaming music, than streaming...

    I hadn't realised you only paid for access and can't 'own' any of the music through it.
    It will be interesting to hear from the artists about their returns from this service... otherwise isn't it just more corporate piracy?


    *Johnny Moore has a good piece about 'stool life' in The Press today

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7880 posts Report Reply

  • Matt Crawford,

    I absolutely love Apple hardware – nothing comes close. This MacAir I’m typing might be 2-3 years old, but it is a piece of genius. A perfect computer.

    But every time I have the misfortune to open itunes I curse. It’s horrible. It’s a bad flashback to the worst of early 2000s media players.

    It’s incomprehensible that the company of Jony “tangency breaks and Bézier surfaces” Ive still want to us to access their world from a creaking and terribly unsexy gateway like itunes.

    In one of my drawers is a fully functioning first generation Zune. In brown no less. And even though the software hasn’t been updated in a few years now, and even though Zune Marketplace has closed; every time I boot the Zune software for old times sake I let out a quiet moan of delight. The software is gorgeous and intuitive, it’s fantastic.

    It boggles my mind that Apple let their culture of insane perfection be besmirched by such a terrible piece of software as Itunes – it’s a relic clinging on from the ipod age. Burn it down and start again: there is nothing worth saving.

    Wellington • Since Dec 2006 • 58 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    Music players aren't hard. A bunch of files, codecs to understand those files and bang the music out on any output device. Some sort of queue manager. For bonus points, better search/selection.

    Leave out glitzy skins, visualizations, proprietary index files pooped all over the filesystem, recoding, and most of all various doomed attempts to extract microcash from the user.

    I liked Foobar2000 on Windows, and VLC on OSX is tolerable. I have so far failed to find an Android music player along those lines.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Robyn Gallagher,

    I like the options of New Zealand music the red bubbles give but I wish it was more relevant. Though picking hip hop as a favoured genre, it asked me if I liked Nesian Mystik and Scribe. Yeah, I liked them 12 years ago when they were in their respective imperial phases. But they're not faves anymore.

    I'm still majorly in love with Spotify and I've used it a lot more in the last few days than iTunes. My carefully selected "2015 aka Hot Jamz" Spotify playlist is all I need right now and unless I hand duplicte it, Apple can't give me that.

    Raglan • Since Nov 2006 • 1946 posts Report Reply

  • Robyn Gallagher,

    BTW, I once read that the demise of physical music stores didn't just remove a place to buy music (that was easily substituted online), it also killed a place to find out about what new music to listen to.

    So that's the challenge of online - being able to make accurate recommendations of new music that will appeal to people. Whether it's done by clever algorithms (the red circles) or clever people (Zane Lowe), this is what Apple needs to get right.

    Raglan • Since Nov 2006 • 1946 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Robyn Gallagher,

    So that’s the challenge of online – being able to make accurate recommendations of new music that will appeal to people. Whether it’s done by clever algorithms (the red circles) or clever people (Zane Lowe), this is what Apple needs to get right.

    And so far, that’s the part it is getting right. It’s just the technical usability that’s borked.

    I have read that the discovery elements of Apple Music are very similar to those of Beats Music, which is interesting. Maybe it was worth some of that $3bn.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22743 posts Report Reply

  • Marcelo Rodriguez Ferrere,

    And so far, that’s the part it is getting right. It’s just the technical usability that’s borked.

    Yes. Exactly.

    Odd. I can do both via the "..." menu.

    But Apple, why on earth can I not add a playlist to a playlist folder? Why would I have to add a playlist to a playlist?

    Ah, that's handy - thanks. I still don't see what the difference is between radio and playlists is however, especially for the reason you identify. There isn't an Earthly reason why Apple would prevent adding a playlist to a playlist folder!

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 33 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Or perhaps young Spotify users are quite used to have no music actually stored on their devices.

    Damn, I blew it. My 5 year old is now used to having music stored on his device, and will be unable to ever enjoy the Apple Kool-Aid. The gateway drug of having music and playlists as simple files on a device like how they were before Apple ever invented the iPod and iTunes* has him in its vice-like grip.

    Yeah, I know, it's all Dad-music. It borders on abuse that his favorite music is not the Wiggles any more, but Queen, Led Zep and Pink Floyd. Bad Dad.

    *For at least ten years, IIRC.

    Leave out glitzy skins, visualizations, proprietary index files pooped all over the filesystem, recoding, and most of all various doomed attempts to extract microcash from the user.

    Yeah man. Only problem is....um....no one can make a ginormous company doing that. I mean you're almost advocating music piracy with that level of thinking about it. But yeah, it's astonishing how much the profit motive can fuck up the simplest idea. It ... plays ... music. First thought of in the stone age. Og used the 6 basic controls: Play, stop, next, volume, search, download. Og was a happy cavewoman, singing to her little ones. A musical cave was a good cave, and there was a club for any stink caveman trying to tell Og that was his song and all the other cave dudes would have to pay tribute to listen or ever sing it themselves. Go hunt a fucking antelope, Gog, and leave the music player the fuck alone.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10629 posts Report Reply

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