Last year Apple launched a web-based version of Apple Music in beta form as part of its efforts to expand the reach of its subscription music service, using a design that was almost in complete lockstep with the new Music app that came to macOS Catalina around the same time. Now as 9to5Mac just discovered, it looks like Apple is bringing back a beta version of the site once again to refine the experience and match what’s coming in iOS 14 and macOS Big Sur.
The current web version of Apple Music left beta in April when it was officially announced as being ready for prime time, and for now Apple is leaving the main Apple Music web portal unchanged and relaunching the beta Apple Music website to try out several new features.
Most significantly, the “For You” tab has been replaced with “Listen Now” — just as it has been in the upcoming iOS and macOS Music app — which will offer more dynamic curated suggestions for songs, albums, and playlists that match your tastes based on your favourite songs and those tracks you’ve recently listened to.
Not surprisingly, Apple has also refreshed the design to more closely mirror what iOS 14 and macOS Big Sur users will see in the actual Music app, including the new red highlights and animated playlist artwork, although it sadly still lacks many of the important features of its standalone counterparts.
For example, while you can browse your music library, including playlists, personal mixes, and recommendations, and play anything right through the web browser, the web version of Apple Music doesn’t let you actually edit playlists, nor does it allow you to display song lyrics.
That said, however, you can add songs to any of your existing playlists, and there are also features for loving and disliking tracks, and you can also share links for playlists (but not individual songs, albums, or artists) to Facebook and Twitter, or even grab the necessary code snippet to embed your playlist on your website.
One other thing that’s changed since last year’s first beta release is that new users can also sign up for Apple Music right from the web. While it’s not something that we can see too many people using, Apple is likely hoping that it will attract more subscribers to its music service, and it may be a boon for those looking for releases and other content that’s exclusive to Apple Music.
As with the main Apple Music website, users will also still be able to browse through the library and listen to song previews without actually signing in, although of course if you sign in with your Apple Music account you’ll get access to your entire library (and as an added bonus, Apple’s single-sign on is supported if you’re using an iPhone, iPad, or Mac, letting you authenticate directly with Face ID or Touch ID, although we’re not sure why you wouldn’t just opt for the built-in Music app in this case).
As with last year’s preview, this latest beta of Apple Music is also a good opportunity to check out what’s coming if you aren’t yet running the iOS 14 or macOS Big Sur public betas, since it very closely resembles the Music app on those devices. It’s very likely that the beta Apple Music portal will replace the existing one after iOS 14 and Big Sur launch to the public this fall, but if you want to check it out early, head on over to beta.music.apple.com to take a look.