The service also had a desktop app, an iPad app, and a "New Releases" section. When I heard Beats bought the service a while back, I had high hopes that the merger would take MOG's first class service and combine it with Beats marketing that has taken a relatively expensive headphone that critics usually dismiss and made it a household name. If they can do that with a so-called "mediocre" product (I have never owned a pair), what could they do with a great product?
Well, the beginning of this service has seen the end of the iPad app, the desktop app, the "new releases" section, and the radio slider. If that wasn't disappointing enough, the service had connection problems all night. I tried to log in via the iPad, iPhone, Chrome, Safari, Internet Explorer, and Firefox. I was able to sign in a couple of times and get it up and running, but it would simply stop working. I actually logged out of wifi and tried cell service on both the iPad and iPhone, but I had no luck.
Luckily, I got a chance to try it out earlier in the day. The service starts with some balloons that have a genre name in it...jazz, country, vintage soul, etc.. and has you hold down the balloons to tell them you don't want the genre, tap the balloon once if you like a genre, or tap the balloon twice if you love the genre. Once you make those choices, it will do the same with some artists in the categories you choose. The interesting thing was that I had this screen come up several times when I would try to sign in and it would get me through the process and then come up with a "connection problem" notification.
Once I was in the app, I missed the easy to use menus that MOG offered: "Search", "New", "Que", "Editor's Picks", "Charts", "Playlists", "Favorites, "Just for you", and "My Downloads". All on the first page of the app.
With Beats, you get a "Just for You" section, "The Sentence", "Highlights", "Find it" that you swipe through on the iPhone. There is also a drop down box that lets you search "Music and Users", and sections for "My Playlists", and "My Library".
The "Just for you" section will show albums and suggested playlists that they recommend based on your choices. I found this to be the most interesting aspect of the service. Just based on a few choices, they hit the mark a lot more often than they missed it from my choices. It is actually better than MOG's "just for you" section even though MOG has years of my music choices to make their recommendations.
"The Sentence" lets you pick from a list of activities. It is a bit like the classic "Mad libs" books that were out years ago. "I'm _____ & Feel like ____With ___ to ______. After you make the choices, it will play music to suit the activity.
"Highlights" doesn't really care about your choices. I had rap and electronic music deleted from my balloon choices, but the sections top two choices were rap and electronica. Luckily, there was a "Blue Note: Classic Jazz" Feature lower on the page, so I was able to use the section.
"Find it" consists of "Genres", "Activities", and "Curators". "Genres" has choices like "Beats Alternative", "Beats Americana", etc.. Each section has several playlists to choose from. For example, "Beats Alternative" has "Best of Industrial Rock", "Tom Waits: The 70s", "Under the Influence: Radiohead", etc. This is also where they hid new releases. You have to go to the Genre, click on the name of the Genre at the top of the page "Beats Country", for example. When you scroll down, you will see playlists and under that, you will see new releases. They also show "Their Picks" on this page.
"Activities" is similar to "The Sentence", but has activities like BBQing, Being Blue, etc.. listed with several playlists in each section.
"Curators" also looks interesting with sections like "Downbeat Magazine", "Grand Ole Opry", "Rolling Stone", "Target", "Alternative Press" etc.. Each section can have several playlists by the Curator that is listed. Interestingly, Ellen DeGeneres is listed as a Curator, so that may mean more celeb lists in the future.
The search function is also different than MOG. MOG would allow you to search by artist, song, or album. With Beats, you get one search box and it will pull up everything that has the name in the title. It seems to put artists at the top if you choose an artist name, so I like that aspect.
The look of the app is busy compared with MOG and takes a lot more swipes and clicks to get through their menus. Also, I clicked on a song that was playing to see the album cover and it had a big symbol in the middle to pause the song and show how much of the song that had played...like a big stop watch. I would prefer to have all of the controls at the bottom and to actually see the album art...like MOG. You can pick the album art from the top of the page and it will blow it up, but you lose the option to control music while it is up.
Right now, I am on the fence about whether I want to keep this service or move to Spotify or Google (both have 320kbps streaming). Many of the features seem really interesting, but the service has tech issues that make it impossible to really get a feel for everything at this point. If those issues are resolved, there is a strong possibility that I will stick with them. If not, Spotify is next up on my list.
More about the service here.