Many people scratched their heads when Apple purchased Beats by Dre earlier this year. To many in the music industry, Beats is considered a mid-range headphone with a “me too” music streaming service backed by aggressive marketing. While some industry insiders thought Apple was purchasing the entire company to get their hands on the design team and their CEO Jimmy Iovine, others were simply baffled.
When Apple updated their OS for Apple TV to match the iOS 8 and Yosemite style last week, music fans were pleasantly surprised by the addition of the Beats Music app to the channel line up. Just days earlier, rumors hit the internet that Apple was going to end the Beats Music streaming service. No doubt, the latest update to Apple TV has us thinking otherwise.
The popular and fashionable Beats by Dre headphones are often disregarded by audiophiles who feel that the emphasis on heavy bass and disappointing high and mid-range frequencies offer poor sound quality. In contrast, Beats Music provides the best sound quality you will hear from any streaming music service. At 320 kbps, the music is as close to CD quality as you can get in this format, putting rival services like Spotify, iTunes Radio, and Pandora to shame. The sound quality is even better than purchases made directly from Apple’s iTunes Store. Arguably, the sound quality is even better when playing your own catalog of music from the popular iTunes Match service.
Although the unique user interface takes some time getting used to, the folks over at Beats put a lot of thought into optimizing the performance of the service. Once you sign-in for the first time (there is a free 14 day trial), you are prompted to select from a series of colored bubbles, each representing a different music genre. You can press the bubble once to show mild enjoyment, or twice to express enthusiasm. You can also make the selection more prominent with additional presses. If there are music styles that you enjoy but do not see, then you can load more options with the press of a button and continue on with your selections. Once you have completed this process, you are then opted to choose which artists you like in the same manner as before. By doing this, Beats Music learns a good deal about the music you like.
During a recent interview with Charlie Rose, Apple CEO Tim Cook expressed his admiration for Beats Music because it had an impressive way of knowing exactly what to play next to maintain a certain mood. After the user has interacted with the program long enough, Beats Music can in fact learn your tastes well enough to the degree that Tim Cook described. Of course, it’s not a perfect science, and not everyone will feel the same way about the music choices Beats Music makes. Still, the user has the option to like songs and dislike others and Beats learns more about your musical preferences as time goes on.