I, like many, had very high hopes for Apple Music. I, like many, was a Spotify user looking for a better experience and a mature Apple-eque "final word" on how to design a streaming music app. And I, like many, have had nothing but disappointment for Apple's newest service.
What makes Apple Music so un-Apple is the total disregard for user experience in many areas of the service. On iOS, it's more of tropical storm than a level 5 hurricane– the app is generally gorgeous, laid out in (fairly) logical sections, but still complicated beyond the level of Spotify.
The level 5 is the Mac (and Windows). And the source is easy to spot– iTunes. For Apple Music to win, iTunes as we know it must die. Anyone who uses Mac regularly with Apple Music is clamoring for a standalone Apple Music app, just like on iOS, and just like Photos on OS X.
Being a designer, complaining about it wasn't enough for me. I was curious to see what I could put together, so I took three or four days to work on a concept. Here it is in all of its non-iTunes glory (click to enlarge). Feel free to bring up iTunes right beside it! Comments of any nature are welcomed.
Right off the bat we've got a standalone app. One navigation bar up top, one player down bottom. Content in between. And a grid that makes more sense (really– go compare them!)
Smoother search with clustering and one source, not two. Why is it that now "My Music" search does result clustering and "Apple Music" search doesn't?
"My Music" was interesting to design. Apple has had a war on the sidebar for several versions of iTunes and even groups playlists in a separate section. This creates two major issues. First, the discoverability and simplicity of switching from song view, artist view, or a playlist is poor. Second, most users don't know you can drag a song into a playlist, since the playlist pane only appears when dragging begins. In trying to visually simplify the UI, Apple just made it more complicated.
Here, I've made a few changes. One is a double-level "sidebar" on the left that provides discoverability, speed, and simplicity both in interaction and in visuals. Second point– from this screen, I'm not limited to just my own music.
I've now clicked on a different artist, and the theme is now dark. The Apple Music app provides a deeply immersive experience, letting the artist bring in their own look. The sidebar text automatically changes appearance to match.
The popover airplay menu allows me to hand the music control off to my phone (like Spotify) and choose where to play it (like iTunes).
When I want album view, it's one click. The sidebar stays and the content gets replaced. One click, highly discoverable, and still visually elegant.
The "For You" screen. A product addition here is using the day, time, and my habits to offer me what I want to listen to next.
I've been wondering why sharing isn't part of Apple Music. In this concept, my friends can share with me, and I can also check out my friends' public playlists.
As Nilay Patel commented on a Verge livestream, "I'm not sure anyone has the emotional tools to navigate an Apple keynote that doesn't involve "The Wire" by Haim, actually."