Apple Music launches on Android to tap billion-strong new audience

Streaming service crosses into rival territory with its core features and free trial intact: ‘It’s a full native app, so it will look and feel like an Android app’

Apple has launched an official Android app for its Apple Music streaming service, just over four months after its debut on iOS.

The Spotify rival’s core features have survived the translation, including its “For You” playlist and album recommendations, Beats 1 radio station and Connect social network - as well as its three-month free trial for new users.

The Android version of Apple Music also provides people with access to their purchases from Apple’s iTunes download store - a first for Android. For now, the main missing feature is the ability to play music videos.

When Apple unveiled Apple Music in June, it promised that the service would later be available for Android devices. “Welcome Android users to @AppleMusic,” tweeted the company’s services boss Eddy Cue as the app launched on Android’s Google Play store.

In an interview with music industry publication Billboard, Cue said that Apple Music has not been cut down for Android. “If you’ve used it on iOS, you’ve used it for Android,” he said. “We wanted it to be for everyone.”

In a separate interview with TechCrunch, he added that Apple has made the new app according to Android’s design principles.

“It’s a full native app, so it will look and feel like an Android app. The menus will look like Android, you know the little hamburger they use on the top. It’ll definitely feel very much like an Android app,” said Cue.

Why is Apple making such an effort for a platform that its executives have regularly disparaged publicly, from Android malware to the slower (than iOS) rates at which new versions of Google’s OS are installed by its community?

There are several theories, including the notion of Apple Music for Android as a marketing ploy to lure people towards iOS devices next time they upgrade their smartphone or tablet.

“We did this with iTunes very early on when we did it for Windows. It’s really important for artists to get as broad an audience as possible, and for us it’s really important because it gives us an opportunity to interact with customers who may not have experienced any of our products before,” Cue told TechCrunch.

Another theory is that Android support will make Apple Music’s $14.99-a-month family plan more appealing for people whose family members are using Android devices – a strategy that may also be important if and when Apple launches its long-rumoured streaming television subscription service.

Finally, and perhaps most convincingly, there’s the sense that with Apple entering the music-streaming market several years after key rivals, it cannot afford to ignore a platform that has more than one billion active users – especially when Android has proven fertile ground for those rivals.

Spotify and Pandora Radio’s Android apps have both been installed more than 100m times, while Google’s own Google Play Music Android app has passed 1bn installs according to public Google Play store stats.

In October, Apple said that 6.5 million people were paying for Apple Music in the first month after early adopters’ free trial ended – although there is some debate over how many of those payers forgot to cancel their automatic subscription.

Even if half of them subsequently cancelled, Apple Music would likely be the second biggest “on-demand” subscription music-streaming service, ahead of Rhapsody/Napster which has three million paying users, and Deezer, which has just over 1.5 million standalone subscribers and another 1.5 million who get it as part of their mobile contract.

Spotify, meanwhile, has more than 20 million paying subscribers as well as more than 55 million active users of its free service.

Is Apple Music worth paying for? The Guardian’s three-month review


Stuart Dredge

The GuardianTramp

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