After months of waiting, Apple Music is finally upon us. The company is now ready to take the wraps off its new streaming service, which will deliver millions of tracks on demand, host a free 24-hour radio station with slots from some of the world's biggest artists, and include a bevvy of social features. It'll go live in over 100 countries today (June 30th), but as is often the case with new Apple services, there's still some uncertainty around what you get and how much it'll set you back. Fear not, for we've pieced together everything you need to know about Apple Music in the UK. Read on to find out.
What do I need and what time will it launch?
Thanks to Apple Music senior director Ian Rogers, we have a clear idea of when you can get streaming. The company will release the new iOS 8.4 update at 4pm UK time, which brings the Apple Music app with it. Once that necessary update has installed, you'll be able to sign up for the three-month free trial and get to grips with all of the app's features. As for Beats 1, Apple's first foray into live radio: that will go on air one hour later.
Apple will also make its first ever Android app for Music. That won't launch until the autumn, but you'll be able to access the service on your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Apple Watch (via a paired phone) and on your Mac or PC via iTunes from day one.
How much will it cost?
When Apple unveiled Music, it only provided pricing for US customers. However, in the lead up to the launch, the company revealed the cost for Brits within iOS 9 beta updates. When you initially sign up, you'll take advantage of a 90-day free trial, but after that you'll have to pay £10 per month to continue streaming.
If you use Apple's Family Sharing scheme for song, e-book and app purchases, there's also a new option for Music that costs £15 each month and allows up to six family members to use individual Apple Music accounts. If you've had issues with Family Sharing in the past, this might not be the best option, but it definitely offers good value for money.
What will I get?
Apple already offers around 30 million tracks on iTunes and it's very likely that the majority of them will be available to stream on day one. We don't yet know what the bitrate will be, but reports suggest that Apple Music will mirror iTunes Match, which offers tracks at 256Kbps AAC quality.
While you're free to stream your favourite artists, Apple Music will also offer curated playlists from "the most talented music experts around the world." These will include mixtapes from Apple's own curators, but there'll also be playlists created by respected music publications like Rolling Stone, Q Magazine and Pitchfork. Apple says the more you listen to these playlists, the more relevant they'll become. You'll be able to find them in the "For You" section of the app, which will also suggest albums and new releases you might enjoy. If you want to create your own compilations, Apple will let you pull together (and share) playlists featuring tracks from the steaming service, and those you've purchased from iTunes or saved in Match.
If you're one of those people who can never decide what to listen to and prefer the good old-fashioned radio experience, then Apple has you covered. With Beats 1, the company is launching a free, 24/7 global radio network with Zane Lowe fronting the show in Los Angeles, Ebro Darden in New York and Julie Adenuga in London. Lowe's first slate of programming will feature an interview with Eminem and there'll also be appearances from Dr. Dre and model-cum-actress Cara Delevigne. Apple has also said it will offer a daily schedule, so you'll know who will be featured and when.
With Apple Music's Connect feature, the company hopes it can do a better job at social than it did with Ping. Connect has a tab of its own inside the Apple Music app, and will allow verified artists to, you know, connect with fans. Pharrell, for example, could fill his Connect feed with tracks, photos and video. You can then heart posts, add a comment or share the updates to Facebook or Twitter, giving musicians and Apple Music a chance to enjoy more social exposure.
Apple will likely share more details when Apple Music launches -- we'll make sure to notify you as soon as any new information becomes available.