A lot was said about Apple Music recently. I, myself posted an article on Medium.com about my take on Apple Music design. Most of us think that Apple’s new streaming service is immature, that it was designed in a hurry and should be improved. I’m sure we’ll see gradual improvements.
A few designers shared their visions of the service with us. They focused on UI and usability and fixed the biggest flaws of AM user experience. Is it enough? No, it isn’t.
Even after a complete interface overhaul Apple will be on the spot, where its main competitor, Spotify, was a year ago. Now it’s leaving the spot behind. Let me just mention services like Spotify Now and Running, the Swedish company wants to change the way people discover music, for the better. That said, it’s obvious that a simple UI redesign and minor improvements are not enough for Apple Music. The question is — what more?
This article is the first part of my side/fun project — redesigning the Apple Music Service. I want to explore how Apple can make its product better and integrate it more with its vast ecosystem of software and hardware. I’m not Apple, Spotify or Jay-Z so I’m basing my thoughts on my own experiences and expectations.
The Core Loop
In the beginning, we need to define the product purpose, the core idea of how a user can benefit from using it. Define the core loop. I’ve written it before. For me, using a music streaming service is a constant exploration, a never-ending process of discovery. When you discover something great, you don’t want to lose it, so you save it and when this great track is safe, saved in your library, you can listen to it as many times as you want. It’s the core loop of the perfect music streaming service (for me)!
Users continuously explore music library searching for a new music that suits their tastes. It should be easy. No matter how do they do this: by following their friends activity, listening to a radio, browsing curated playlists or checking their recommendations.
Saving a song to user library should be the easiest thing in the world. One click, no drop-down menus, etc. A simple message, quick action. The same applies to playlists. Just drag a song to create a new playlist.
Listen (and Share)
The player, a core part of the service. It’s the best thing in Apple Music, but it could be improved when it comes to UI. It should be the easiest thing to pause music, start playing or check your queue.
Apple Music needs improvements on two main levels. It needs new functionalities and user interface tweaks.
The most important change.
In his book “Don’t Make Me Think” Steve Krug wrote, that clear and consistent navigation is the most important thing when it comes to user experience design.
The most important change that needs to be done is an improvement of the navigation. Possible choices need to be communicated in a clear manner. Naming should be easy to understand, and a user must always have the option to go back.
I’ve found a side-panel menu easier to use. It’s on the left side, before anything else. Placing it like this gives the navigation a sense of supremacy over the content. It also creates a nice space for a playlist. That way, they’re visible all the time.
Or Vote on HOWWW here!
I’m in love with the concept of personalisation. In all the services personalisation goes only as far as proposed playlists. In my opinion, extending personalisation options will be great from a user perspective. I posted some work-in-progress designs of Apple music/iTunes on Behance and I got some nice feedback.
For example, some of my friends there loved the dark UI version but there were many that appreciated the light one. Why not give them a choice? Lights on (light), or lights off (dark). This concept can go even further.
We could give users opportunity to arrange their welcome screens the way that suits them the best.
Some of them would like to have Top Hits lists on the first screen, some would prefer to see recommended music or their friends activity.
It’s so easy, and can add so much value.
Every Artist is Different
Every single band or singer is different. They provide different emotions and experience.
iTunes has this nice concept of colouring every artist’s page in a different colour, putting the artist’s photo on top. But it looks like designers at Apple don’t have the guts to pull it off.
I’d love to see this concept on the bigger scale. Used more boldly. You can see my quick concept below.
New Ways of Discovering Music
Right now Apple Music is a very standard service. Yeah, they have these super-duper algorithms that serve you music similar to your taste, but it’s so 2010. From a company such as Apple, I’m demanding more.
I’d love to see how the whole ecosystem comes to play. How the data collected from my iWatch or iPhone translates into curated playlists created just for me.
Integration of Apple Music with Apple Watch or third party apps would be a killing feature.
Think that you don’t need to craft your running playlist manually. You don’t even need to hope that Spotify will determine your tempo right. It’s all here. Apple has the data and the hardware to measure it.
You can say what you like but for me Apple Music has no social features. Apple introduced Connect which was supposed to be the next groundbreaking social feature. It turns out it’s just another Facebook fan page. Meanwhile, there are no options to share your music, playlists or discoveries with your friends or the whole community. That should also be changed.
Improving “Your Music” Experience
This is a very small improvement to make, but it’s very important. Right now saving a song to your collection of favourite songs is a pain in the ass. Saving whole playlists is even worse. Meanwhile, you could do it in just one click.
Other Small Improvements
Beside all that I wrote above, Apple Music (or rather iTunes) needs major UI improvements. iTunes was meant as a music/video player at the start. Then a store comes in, and now a streaming service. In my article, I wrote about it in more detail. iTunes architecture isn’t good enough to handle all of these features. That’s why it should be redesigned — the whole app architecture and structure. In my designs, I tried to approach this problem separating individual sections more.
Other than that there is definitely a need of other minor improvements like social buttons, song/playlist options etc.
Apple Music needs a redesign on three levels: Interface, Interaction and Integration. The one that will make discovering, saving, listening and sharing music easier. These are my first thoughts and tries on this topic, but certainly not last. There are many ideas to explore e.g. integration of Apple Music with apps like iMovie or Keynote (all in the Apple ecosystem). You can follow me on Behance, Medium or join my private mailing list to track this little side project progress.
Do you like my story? Share or recommend it please, I’ll be very grateful!