Apple TV Rocks Beats Music

While all the Apple Kool-Aid drinkers could talk about last week was the new iPhone 6 and Apple Watch, an interesting tidbit of news was mostly overlooked, but we feel it’s rather exciting. (Is it just me, or is it really hard to get all that thrilled about yet another iPhone launch?) Along with a sleek new interface for the set-top box, Apple TV has added Beats Music streaming.

In a recent interview on PBS, Apple CEO Tim Cook called Beats co-founders Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine "creative geniuses." Cook said, "All of a sudden it dawns on me that when I listen to [Beats] for a while, I feel completely different. And the reason is that they recognized that human curation was important in the subscription service—that the sequencing of songs that you listen to affect how you feel.” He was impressed with the Beats Music subscription service and for him, it justified the $3 billion price tag for the Beats corporation.

Although software updates will improve all generations of Apple TV, only third-generation systems will get Beats Music streaming. This new channel lets subscribers configure their favorite artists and styles with those “human-curated” playlists. The system comes with a free 14-day trial—when that expires, the streaming service is $10 per month or $100 for an annual subscription.

Former Beats Music users will notice one immediate omission. The Sentence—a Beats Music app that lets users pick a playlist based on where they are and what they’re doing at that exact moment, similar to filling in an old “Mad Libs” page—is missing. Hopefully, that’s just an oversight that will be replaced in a later release.

In addition to the Beats Music app, Apple TV has received quite a few other upgrades. The icons have all received a facelift, bringing them more in line with the appearance of the icons on iOS. There is support for family sharing, which lets multiple users connect their individual Apple ID to the family’s Apple TV with a single credit card for shared purchases, such as movies, TV programs, and music. It is also rumored that HomeKit is already built into the firmware of the third-generation box. HomeKit is Apple’s home automation system, controlling everything from your thermostat to your lights and appliances over the Internet of Things, providing they have built-in Internet capabilities.

Apple’s been accused of considering the Apple TV as a “hobby,” but with this upgrade it’s clear the company is continuing to take the TV business, which had a reported $1 billion in sales since 2013 and over 20 million users, seriously. According to Cook, “We’ve added more content to it this year, so there’s increasingly more things you can do on there. This is an area that we continue to look at.”

Since I’m still not getting all rev’ed up about a new phone, we’ll continue to investigate what Apple has to offer outside of cell phones too.

DefTechFan's picture

Our (wife and I) experience has been positive with Beats Music. The 320kbps is good enough for $10/month and a great interface. About time they added it to Apple TV! I had previously used my PS3 as my media hub for my main system but will be moving the Apple TV in there from the bedroom.

WFO-to-the-end's picture

Do you have to have apple tv to get beats? Has anyone done a comparison between the streaming sevices? I have spotify but they do not have complete catologs of some artists. For example Shelby Lynnes album I am Shelby Lynne is not available. That was her breakout album and won a grammy. Also, Porcupine Trees album Fear of a BlankPlanet is not available. It contains their best song-Anesthetize. Do diff sevices have diff catalogs?

Winefix's picture

Sound quality is weak, but amazing catalog and user experience. Spotify is about the same, just layer out differently.
Waiting for Tidal to be available this fall, then I will cancel my Beats subscription, unless they improve the sound quality to at least CD quality.

jnemesh's picture