Apple clears up the Apple Music clutter, adds daily playlists to take on Spotify

With a claimed 15 million subscribers in just its first year, Apple Music is by all accounts a roaring success. However, despite the biggest start for a new streaming service in history, the service’s oft-derided user interface has been a nagging problem as Apple seeks to take on its biggest rival in the space, Spotify. At the 2016 WWDC event in San Francisco on Monday, Apple showed off its redesigned music service, which is aimed at helping it gain ground on its hugely successful Swedish counterpart.

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The “ground-up redesign” showed subtle changes to Apple Music, but they’re changes that show the company has been listening to those frustrated with Apple Music’s notoriously cluttered design.

Apple Music’s Now Playing window has a shiny new look in the latest update, offering more intuitive controls, as well as scrolling lyrics right at the bottom of the page. That’s a nice feature, especially considering Spotify is currently between lyrics algorithms, leaving its 30 million paying subscribers in the lurch for now.

Perhaps even more importantly, Apple has totally revamped Apple Music’s Library tab, addressing the elephant in the room as it were, as many users have been reticent to marry their iTunes Library with the new streaming service. In Apple Music’s first iteration, it was extremely difficult to tell which songs were yours and which were coming from the cloud, muddling all your tracks, artists, and albums together. Apple has addressed the issue with a dedicated “downloaded music” section, making it easier than ever to tell exactly which songs are downloaded on your device. Going even further, the Library tab also now breaks down the organization so you can easily find tracks you’ve recently downloaded.

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Apple Music’s Connect section, a social media component that lets users keep up with their favorite artists, never really caught on, so the company has folded Connect into the For You tab. For You is now front-and-center for most functions, serving up a Discovery Mix of all the top songs Apple thinks you’ll like based on your listening history, and going even further with a playlist for every day of the week — an apparent answer to Spotify’s uber-popular Discover Weekly playlists. Each daily playlist is curated just for you, sitting alongside artist playlists, and others. From the start, Apple Music has always put a high priority on its curated music, so it will be interesting to see if these latest efforts can offer a meaningful alternative to Discover Weekly.

Finally, Apple Music has revamped the Radio tab, adding yet another place to easily access broad playlists, and making it easier to follow your favorite shows on Apple’s live Beats 1 Radio station.

While most of the updates appear to be relatively modest ones, it looks like Apple has cleared up some of the cobwebs to make its streaming platform slicker, more streamlined, and better equipped to serve up the music you want to hear. We’ll have to wait and see if this can give the service some more clout as it looks to take on an ever-expanding list of rivals in the streaming space.

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