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Apple Music revamp to debut at WWDC in June (Report)

TechCrunch TechCrunch 4/05/2016 Sarah Perez

Apple Music has been much maligned for its confusing interface which reviewers have referred to as cluttered and difficult to navigate, “a confusing mess,” and “so crammed with items, lists and menus that it’s hard to find things initially,” among other things. But according to a new report out today from Bloomberg, Apple is planning to unveil a redesigned and streamlined interface for its flagship music service at its WWDC event this June.

The new interface is described as being “more intuitive to use,” and it will better integrate its streaming and download businesses, the report indicated. Apple’s online radio service will also be expanded at that time.

Apple in January made its DJ-hosted station Beats 1 the only free radio option in Apple Music, and put the remaining stations behind a paywall for subscribers. That meant free users lost access to Apple’s curated radio stations that focused on various genres, plus entertainment stations like its “Star Wars” radio which arrived just ahead of the new movie.

However, trademark filings uncovered late last year point to more Beats radio stations in development. Apple has filed applications for stations including Beats 2, Beats 3, Beats 4, and Beats 5, it was discovered. Bloomberg’s report didn’t get into details regarding the radio expansion, so it’s unclear at this time if additional stations will be added, or if these Beats brands will come into play.

The report largely touched on the conflicts between Apple and Beats, the hardware and software maker Apple bought in 2014 for $3 billion, noting that Apple has been struggling to integrate Beats employees into its company. Those issues caused Apple to lose several key members from Beats, including Beats Music Chief Executive Ian Rogers, product head Ryan Walsh, chief designer Ryan Goodman, vice president for engineering Bobby Gaza and senior visual designer Jackie Ngo.

Bloomberg also explained the issues with the streaming business in general, where some key artists like Adele, refuse to participate, and others give exclusives to competing services, as was the case with Kayne West’s “Life of Pablo” (at least, initially.) And Apple still has a profitable download business to promote – revenues from which remained steady at nearly $3.5 million, Bloomberg said, which is almost 3 times that of Apple Music’s streaming subscriptions.

Whether Apple Music’s revamp will be successful, of course, remains to be seen. But the challenge comes at a time when Apple has just seen its first drop in iPhone sales ever. That means the company’s focus on selling its software subscriptions, like Apple Music and iCloud, could become more critical going forward.

Unfortunately for Apple, that’s not an area where it has traditionally excelled. Many believe that Apple’s software doesn’t live up to the same standards as its hardware, and Apple Music is a sterling example of that. In other words, if Bloomberg’s report holds true, there will be a lot riding on this Apple Music redesign when it’s unveiled later this summer.

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