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The Verdict: Should you pay for Apple Music when the free trial ends?

Macworld Staff | July 9, 2015
We're a little over a week into the free three-month trial of Apple Music, and the Macworld staff is more or less dancing in the street. We don't love everything about Apple's new streaming service, but even though most of us were already subscribed to a competing service that we pay our own hard-earned dollars for, Apple Music and its Beats 1 siren song are tempting us to switch, and it sounds like our current services are about to lose a few customers.

Beats 1 is also opening my ears to jams I've never heard before. I love radio because it's like playing musical Russian roulette: Is the next song going to be the best I've ever heard or completely awful? I don't always love the selections from Zane Lowe, Julie Adenuga, or Ebro Darden, but sometimes they're perfectly on point. And I'm surprised by how much I've enjoyed the artist-hosted shows, particularly St. Vincent's Mixtape Delivery Service. I'm hoping Dr. Dre's show lives up to its hype.

Apple Music's Siri integration is another favorite feature of mine, because I can't use it with any other streaming service. Being able to tell Siri what I want to listen to, either as specific as a song title or as general as a genre, is nothing short of amazing. And I don't even need to open the Music app for Siri to be my personal DJ.

I can also sync my workout playlist to my Apple Watch to listen to on a run without my iPhone nearby, which means my dream of running completely unencumbered is so close to coming true (if only my neighborhood coffee shop accepted Apple Pay).

I'm planning to put my Spotify subscription on hold and ride out the rest of my free Apple Music trial before making a final decision, but I've discovered more great music during this week with Apple Music than I have in the last few months put together.--Caitlin McGarry

Susie: Probably switching from Rdio

Like Leah, I've been a happy Rdio subscriber for years. I like a lot of the same things she does. I vastly prefer the web player and Mac client to having to launch iTunes and watch it gobble up my Mac's resources. I love how the iOS app and the Mac app can control each other--you're not allowed to be logged in and listening to different things in more than one location, so if I'm listening to tunes on my Mac, the Rdio app for iPhone can act as a remote, letting me skip tracks or queue up new ones. Or if I'm in the library with Rdio streaming to my headphones via my iPhone, I can still hit play or pause on my Mac.

I've discovered lots of new music in Rdio from seeing what's trending with my friends, or subscribing to their playlists. And I love how I get a notification when something new is added to the service by an artist that's already in my collection.

Still, Apple Music makes discovery even easier and better. Since it's so focused on personalizing its recommendations, showing me what my friends are listening to might actually detract--I wouldn't want it cluttering up the For You tab, but I wouldn't be opposed to a "trending with your network" section in the New tab. I started as a Beats 1 hater (go ahead, say "worldwide" again, I dare you), but over the last week even that has grown on me. I love that old shows appear as playlists, and lord help me if I didn't enjoy Jaden Smith's radio show almost as much as the one by Q-Tip the Abstract, founder of A Tribe Called Quest, who's been a hip-hop hero of mine since high school.

 

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