Apple Music: Our Complete Guide

Apple Music is Apple's streaming music service, comparable to other similar streaming services like Spotify, Amazon Music Unlimited, Google Play Music, Tidal, and others.

Apple Music boasts access to a total of 50 million songs. Content can be streamed or downloaded for offline play, and there are also song and genre-based radio stations available along with the curated Beats 1 radio station.


Apple Music integrates with your existing iCloud Music Library, so you can combine Apple Music songs with songs that you have previously purchased on iTunes all in one unified location.

Apple Music's Unique Features


All of the streaming services have differences, and with Apple Music, Apple has focused on human curation. While there are some algorithmically created playlists, a lot of the content highlighted on Apple Music is done by Apple Music editors.

Apple offers regularly updated personalized playlists in a "For You" tab, including a favorites mix, a chill mix, a friends mix, and a new music mix, along with other playlist options that are updated on a daily basis.


Apple Music also often has exclusive album releases, documentaries, and music videos that aren't available on other platforms as a way to lure subscribers.

Beats 1, Apple Music's 24/7 live radio station, is also one of the service's most unique features. It features songs curated by DJs along with a multitude of special shows, sometimes created by artists.

What's Included in a Subscription



  • Unlimited access to Apple Music songs on demand

  • Personalized algorithmic playlists

  • Curated playlists

  • Mood-based playlists

  • User-created playlists

  • Beats 1 Radio

  • Access to other radio stations

  • Offline song playback

  • Existing music matched to iTunes catalog and added to iCloud Music Library

  • Music and playlist syncing across all Apple Music-compatible devices

Apple Music Availability


Apple Music is available in over 100 countries and regions, with a full list of countries available on Apple's website.

Device Compatibility


Apple music works on all of Apple's devices, including iPhone (CarPlay included), iPad, Apple Watch (with no iPhone on LTE models), Apple TV, Mac (in iTunes), and HomePod.

It's also available on non-Apple devices, so you don't need to be an Apple user to get it. It works on on PCs with the PC version of iTunes, on Android devices with the Android Apple Music app, on Sonos devices, and on Amazon-branded Echo devices.

Cost


Unlike Spotify, Apple Music does not offer a free ad-supported music tier. A paid subscription is required for all Apple Music content.

A standard Apple Music subscription costs $9.99 per month in the United States. With UNiDAYS verification, college students can sign up for a discounted Apple Music subscription that costs $4.99 per month.

A family plan is available for $14.99 per month, and it allows up to six people to listen to Apple Music. A family subscription requires Family Sharing to be set up, which requires all people in the family to use the same credit card for iTunes billing purposes.

Pricing does vary by country, but is similar to the U.S. pricing.

In the United States, Verizon subscribers with Beyond Unlimited or Above Unlimited data plans can access Apple Music for free.

Free Trial


Apple offers free three-month free trials for Apple Music, and in some cases, has been known to offer additional trial months to encourage listeners to sign up for a paid subscription.

Apple Music Basics


Using Apple Music


Managing Your Music


Finding Songs


Radio


Sharing



Apple Music on Other Devices


More Apple Music Tips


Apple Music Comparison Guides


Trying to decide between Apple Music and another service? Make sure to check out our guides comparing Apple Music with other streaming music options that are out there.
In a nutshell, Apple Music is the ideal choice if you're in the Apple ecosystem, have a HomePod, prefer human-based curation, and already have an existing iTunes music collection.

Music Quality


Apple Music uses 256Kb/s AAC (Advanced Audio Coding) files. For comparison, Spotify, Apple Music's largest competitor, uses 320Kb/s Ogg Vorbis files, but while that sounds like it's better quality, the two are not identical.

Both AAC and Ogg Vorbis are different compression formats with different sound profiles, but both are similar and the average person isn't going to be able to tell one from the other. CNET has a great comparison testing the sound quality of Apple Music and Spotify.

DRM


You can download songs from Apple Music for offline playback, but the content that you download is protected by DRM (digital rights management), much like other streaming music services.

If you cancel your Apple Music subscription, the Apple Music songs that you've downloaded were no longer work. Apple Music songs also can't be transferred to other devices, downloaded, burned to CD, or used off device in any way.

Note that with iCloud Music Library enabled, all of your Apple Music content will be available on all of your Apple Music-compatible devices.

Guide Feedback


Have an Apple Music question or tip that you don't see available in our guide? Email us at tips@macrumors.com.


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March 2019 Apple Event: What to Expect

In an average year, Apple holds three to four events. There's usually a spring event in March, the Worldwide Developers Conference in June, a September event that's focused on iPhone and Apple Watch, and sometimes an October event if there are iPads or Macs expected in the fall.

In this guide, we're keeping track of all of the Apple events that are on the horizon and what we're expecting to see at each one, so make sure to check back in regularly.


March 25 Event


Apple's first event of the year will take place on Monday, March 25. According to rumors, Apple plans to focus on services at this event, introducing both a new Apple News service and a TV service. Here's what we're expecting to see:

Apple News Service


Apple is working on a $9.99 per month subscription news service that would give Apple News users unlimited access to stories from paywalled sites like The New York Times and the Washington Post.

This service is also expected to include a magazine element, similar to the service offered by Texture, the magazine app that Apple bought in 2018. The same $9.99 fee for accessing news services may also provide access to unlimited magazines from participating publishers, but it's not yet clear if that will all fall under a single fee.

Not all news sites are on board yet because Apple wants 50 percent of all subscription revenue, but magazine publishers are embracing Apple's plan. Regardless of how the services are presented, expect to see Apple announce Apple News subscriptions for paywalled news and magazines.

Streaming TV Service


Apple is also working on a streaming TV service that will include the more than two dozen TV shows and movies that it has in the works, along with access to subscription content from other cable providers.

There's no word on what this service will cost, but Apple will introduce it at the March event before launching it later in the year, perhaps in summer or fall. Multiple celebrities like Jennifer Aniston, Steve Carell, and Jennifer Garner - who are starring in Apple's original television shows - have been invited to the event and are expected to attend.

iOS 12.2


The iOS 12.2 beta that's being tested right now already has hints of the Apple News service in it, and Apple is going to release the iOS 12.2 update right after the event takes place to give people access to the new Apple News subscription service.

Along with access to this subscription service, iOS 12.2 brings Apple News to Canada, offers new Animoji characters, includes HomeKit TV support for third-party TVs, and has dozens of other smaller tweaks and changes outlined in our iOS 12.2 tidbits post.

Hardware


We're expecting minor updates for a number of Apple products, including the iPad mini, iPad, AirPods, and iPod touch, and the launch of the AirPower is rumored to be on the horizon.

Rumors have said that Apple won't include these announcements in the event because of its focus on services, but it's still possible we'll hear a few words about them, and if not, Apple could choose to release all of these updates shortly after the event via press release.

Event Details


The March 25 event will take place at 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time (1:00 p.m. Eastern Time) at the Steve Jobs Theater on the Apple Park campus. Apple plans to live stream the event on its website and through the Events app on the Apple TV.


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AirPods: Our Complete Guide to Apple’s Wireless Earphones

First released in 2016, Apple's AirPods are widely considered to be one of the company's best products in recent years, with AirPods offering great battery life, portability, simple charging, and unparalleled Bluetooth range.

AirPods are so popular that Apple still has trouble keeping them in stock at times, and two years after launch, it's not uncommon to see an abundance of AirPods out on the street, in movies, in TV shows, and everywhere else you look.

If you're new to AirPods, considering buying a pair, or just want to pick up some new tips, this guide is for you.

What are AirPods?


AirPods are Apple's completely wire-free headphones, which look a bit like the Apple EarPods from older devices, but without the cables. AirPods have Apple-designed tech inside like a special wireless chip called the W1, an accelerometer for gestures, dual optical sensors, dual beamforming microphones for Siri and phone calls, and a second accelerometer for speech detection.


AirPods come with the AirPods Charging Case, which is used for both charging and storage purposes so the AirPods don't get lost. The Charging Case is about the size of a container of dental floss, so it's easily pocketable. A Lightning port at the bottom lets the AirPods and the case be charged with the Lightning cables you already have on hand.

How do I set up my AirPods?


One of the best thing about AirPods is how easy they are to set up with an Apple device. All you need to do is unlock your iPhone or iPad, pop open the top of the AirPods Charging Case, hold it near your device, and wait for a popup on your iPhone or iPad's display.

From there, you just tap the connect button and the AirPods pair like magic.


AirPods are designed to connect to your iPhone or iPad whenever you open the case lid, so all you need to do to listen to music is take them out of the case and put them in your ears.

Your AirPods are linked to your iCloud account, so once you pair them with one device, your other devices know they exist. You can switch connections between your devices through the standard Bluetooth settings options, where AirPods will be listed on any device that you're signed into with your iCloud account.

More setup instructions: How to Set Up Your New AirPods, a visual guide.

Basic AirPods Tutorials


What are all the features of my AirPods?


AirPods have a number of unique features when used on an Apple device, and they've been designed to work well with all of your Apple products. If you're considering AirPods you'll want to check out this list so you know just what makes them so special.

  • Zero wires

  • Comfortable fit

  • Five hour battery life

  • 24 hour total battery life with Charging Case

  • 3 hours charge from case in 15 minutes

  • One tap setup for Apple devices

  • Instant connection to iPhone, iPad, Mac, or Apple Watch

  • Easy switching between iOS and Mac devices

  • Accelerometer plays music right when you put the AirPods in your ears

  • Taking out an AirPod pauses music

  • Just one AirPod can be used for calls or music

  • Double tap access to Siri

  • Double tap for changing tracks or playing/pausing music

  • W1 chip for efficient battery and extended bluetooth range

  • Microphone for calls and Siri


These are all features that other headphone manufacturers have attempted to match, but haven't been able to get quite right in this combination. AirPods continue to be ahead of the competition, and they're almost universally loved by those who have Apple devices.

What devices are compatible with AirPods?


AirPods work with all iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch models that run iOS 10 or later. This includes the iPhone 5 and newer, the iPad mini 2 and newer, the fourth-generation iPad and newer, the iPad Air models, all iPad Pro models, and the 6th-generation iPod touch.

AirPods work with all Apple Watch models running watchOS 3 or later, which includes the original Apple Watch and all subsequent Apple Watch releases.

AirPods also work with all Mac models that run macOS Sierra or later, including the late 2009 or newer MacBook, the mid-2010 or newer MacBook Pro, the late 2010 or newer MacBook Air, the mid-2010 or newer Mac mini, the late-2009 or newer iMac, or the mid-2010 or newer Mac Pro.

With the above listed iPhone, Apple Watch, iPad, and Mac models, all AirPods features are available. You can pair AirPods with other non-Apple devices, you just won't get to take advantage of all the bells and whistles.

Using AirPods With Your Apple Devices


Can I use AirPods with Android devices?


You can use AirPods with Android smartphones and other devices, and for instructions, we have a handy AirPods Android guide that goes over how to use AirPods on Android, the benefits, the downsides, and how well AirPods work on non-Apple devices.

AirPods are just like other Bluetooth headphones, and will connect to any device that supports Bluetooth audio.

AirPods Tips and Tricks




AirPods Maintenance and Troubleshooting


More AirPods Questions


Are AirPods comfortable and do they stay in your ears?


Based on reviews, user anecdotes, and our own experiences here at MacRumors, most people who own AirPods find them to be relatively comfortable, even when using them for long periods of time.

That said, everyone has ears that are shaped differently, so there are some instances where AirPods might not be a good fit. With small ears, for example, AirPods can be a tight fit and can be uncomfortable for longterm wear.

We haven't seen complaints of AirPods falling out of peoples' ears with regular use, but it's worth noting that AirPods are not designed for exercising and can come out with rigorous activity.

Are AirPods sweatproof?


AirPods will unofficially hold up to a small mount of moisture without becoming unusable, but there is no water resistance rating and they are not meant to be used when working out. Future AirPods may be more water resistant, but for the current version, use caution.

Are there useful AirPods accessories?


There are quite a few accessories on the market that you can get for your AirPods, including protective cases, cases that add wireless charging, and more. We've listed a handful of the best accessories we've found below.

  • AirSnap from Twelve South ($30) - A handy little leather case for your AirPods, metal clip included for keeping them within reach in a bag.


  • HyperJuice Wireless Adapter ($20) - The HyperJuice snaps onto your AirPods case and lets you charge your AirPods using a Qi wireless charging mat.


  • PowerPod Wireless Charging Case ($30) - Another wireless charging case that's designed to fit over the AirPods Charging Case.


  • Catalyst Waterproof AirPods Case ($25) - This silicone case fits over your AirPods Charging Case and keeps it safe from water or dust. It also includes a carabiner.


  • Airfly from Twelve South ($40) - The Airfly is an adapter that lets you use AirPods where wired headphones would normally be required, such as at gyms or with airplane entertainment systems.


  • Spigen AirPods Strap ($8.99) - If you want to add a cable to your AirPods for some reason, Spigen has you covered with a strap that connects them together.


  • EarBuddyz Ear Hooks ($11.95) - If you want to get some ear hooks to help your AirPods stay in place, EarBuddyz offers a soft silicone option.


How do AirPods compare to other wireless headphones?


We've done a couple of comparisons that pit the AirPods against other wire-free headphones. Spoiler: the AirPods are super popular for a reason and are the best wireless headphones we've found for Apple's devices.

Where can I buy AirPods?


AirPods can be purchased from Apple for $159, but third-party retailers sometimes have them available at a discounted price. For the best possible deal on AirPods, make sure to check out our AirPods deal guide.

What's next for the AirPods?


Apple is, of course, working on a second-generation version of the AirPods, and you can see all of the details in our AirPods rumor roundup. We're expecting to see a wireless charging case, "Hey Siri" support, and perhaps even some new health features.

Our roundup also has more on the technical details of the AirPods, including the design, how they work, the internal components, and more, so make sure to check it out.

AirPods Community Discussion


If you have any specific questions or want to discuss AirPods with others in the MacRumors community, visit our iPhone Accessories sub-forum which houses many discussions about AirPods, including:

Guide Feedback


Know of an AirPod feature or how to that would make a good addition to this guide, or have an AirPods question you want answered? Email us at tips@macrumors.com.

Related Roundup: AirPods 2
Buyer's Guide: AirPods (Caution)

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Apple’s New Smart Battery Case: Everything You Need to Know

Apple in January launched Smart Battery Cases designed for the iPhone XS, XS Max, and iPhone XR. The Smart Battery Cases are designed to add additional battery life to Apple's newest iPhones.

Priced at $129, the Smart Battery Cases come in either black or white and are made from the same material as Apple's silicone cases. From our hands on article:


How does it work?


The Smart Battery Cases are similar in design to a silicone case but with an extra bump on the back that houses the battery pack. While attached to the iPhone, the Smart Battery Case functions like an external battery pack, providing additional power to the iPhone.


A Lightning connector built into the case connects to the Lightning port in the iPhone, but Lightning access remains available due to an additional Lightning port in the case itself.


When you have the Smart Battery Case on your iPhone, your iPhone will use all of the charge in the case before expending its own battery.

What's the capacity?


Each of the Smart Battery Cases features two 1,369mAh battery cells inside. Because there are two battery cells wired together, the cases run at a higher voltage that offers 10.1Wh of energy, making them higher capacity than previous battery cases introduced for iPhone 6s and 7.

How much extra battery life does it add?


Apple lists the approximate battery life you can expect from each iPhone while in the case, broken down into different use cases.

- iPhone XR total battery life with case - Up to 39 hours talk time, 22 hours internet use, and 27 hours video playback.

- iPhone XS total battery life with case - Up to 33 hours talk time, 21 hours internet use, and 25 hours video playback.

- iPhone XS Max total battery life with case - Up to 37 hours talk time, 20 hours internet use, and 25 hours video playback.

So, if we compare those totals with the normal battery life for each of these devices, we can see how much additional battery life each case adds. Normal battery life estimates for each iPhone:

- iPhone XR: Up to 25 hours talk, 15 hours internet, 16 hours video

- iPhone XS: Up to 20 hours talk, 12 hours internet, 14 hours video

- iPhone XS Max: Up to 25 hours talk, 13 hours internet, 15 hours video

The estimated additional battery life added with each Smart Battery Case:

- iPhone XR: +14 hours talk time, +7 hours internet time, +11 hours video playback

- iPhone XS: +13 hours talk time, +9 hours internet time, +11 hours video playback

- iPhone XS Max: +12 hours talk time, +7 hours internet time, +10 hours video playback

These are, of course, estimates from Apple based on certain tasks on the iPhone. The actual battery life that you get from each Smart Battery Case is going to vary based on what you're doing, but in general, these cases are adding 50 to 75 percent additional battery depending on task.

How does the case charge?


Apple built Qi wireless charging into the Smart Battery Case, so both the case and the iPhone can be charged using any Qi wireless charging accessory.


You can also charge the case via Lightning, and if you use a USB-PD compatible charger (aka a USB-C charger paired with a USB-C to Lightning cable) the case will charge up even faster. For fast charging, you can use one of Apple's USB-C Power Adapters for MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, or MacBook, but third-party USB-C chargers over 18W also work.


Your iPhone will always charge before the case if the battery is low, and once the iPhone's battery is full, the case will charge. You can also charge the case all on its own without your iPhone inside using any of these charging methods.

Note: The Smart Battery Case does not come with a Lightning cable for charging purposes, so you will need to supply your own.

Can I use the Lightning port with the case on?


The Smart Battery Case’s Lightning port acts as a passthrough, so you can use Lightning-based accessories like headphones and adapters with your phone while it’s inside the case.

How can I check remaining battery life?


When the Smart Battery Case is attached to the iPhone, the battery life of the case is displayed on the Lock screen when you put it on a wireless charger, attach it to an iPhone for the first time, or attach a Lightning cable.


You can also check the battery life at any time by swiping to the right on the Home screen to open the Today view of the Notification Center. There's a battery widget that lists the battery life of the iPhone, the case, and other attached devices like AirPods or the Apple Watch.


Does the XS case work with the iPhone X?


Yes, with some caveats. The case is designed for the iPhone XS and while the iPhone X and XS are nearly identical, there are a few minor differences. For this reason, the speaker and microphone holes on the case don't line up right on the iPhone X, and the camera cutout is a little off.

You can get the iPhone X in the case, though, and it will charge, but you might run into some problems and need to do a little troubleshooting.


Attaching the case to the iPhone X might result in a popup suggesting the iPhone is not compatible with it, but if you dismiss this popup, it should still charge. If charging does not work, you may need to restart or update your version of iOS to iOS 12.1.3, which is currently in beta testing.

Where can I buy the Smart Battery Case?


Apple sells the Smart Battery Cases for iPhone XS, XS Max, and XR both online and in its retail stores. The cases are priced at $129.

Related Roundups: iPhone XS, iPhone XR

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AirPower: Everything We Know

What is AirPower?


AirPower is an Apple-designed charging mat designed to charge Qi-based iPhones, the Apple Watch, and the AirPods, using a specially designed and as-of-yet unreleased wireless compatible AirPods Charging Case.

Apple's AirPower is proprietary and combines at least two different wireless charging methods -- Qi and then the Apple Watch charger, which is inductive and not Qi based.


It's designed so that you can place an iPhone, AirPods, or Apple watch on any portion of the mat to have the device charge, which means multiple overlapping chargers must be included.

The AirPower mat is big enough to charge all three devices at one time, with the AirPower itself connected to an external power source, perhaps using a USB-C cable.

In Apple's renderings, AirPower also had a feature that let the iPhone display the wireless charging level of all of the devices on the mat, including the iPhone itself, the Apple Watch, and the AirPods.

Where is AirPower?


AirPower missed its 2018 launch date, and while Apple has been quiet on the reason why, rumors have suggested there were serious manufacturing issues and kinks to be worked out.

Apple was forced to delay the AirPower after having trouble dealing with the complex multi-device charging circuitry, software bugs, and the potential for overheating.

Over the course of 2018, Apple has been working out kinks including heat management, inter-device communication, and interference issues, and there were times during development where rumors suggested Apple could potentially be planning to nix the AirPower, but there have been consistent mentions in 2018 iPhone packaging.

Apple doesn't appear to have given up on the AirPower, and new information even suggests a launch could be on the horizon.

When Will AirPower Launch?


Apple announced AirPower in September 2017 alongside the iPhone 8, 8 Plus, and X, and said at the time that it would launch sometime in 2018.

The end of 2018 has come and gone, and Apple has given no further official info on when the AirPower will debut.

A recent rumor from Apple's supply chain in China has suggested the manufacturing issues have been solved. The AirPower is said to be entering mass production on January 21, with Apple planning to release it sometime soon.

What "soon" means is unclear, but if mass production is beginning in late January, Apple could be targeting February as a potential launch month.

What Will AirPower Cost?


Apple never announced pricing for the AirPower, but there have been some guesses. Chinese "industry insiders" in August 2018 suggested the AirPower could cost somewhere around $1,000 Chinese yuan, equivalent to right around $147.

Back in November 2017, a Polish website suggested the AirPower would cost around 999 złoty, equivalent to $199.

Given that both of these rumors came from well before the AirPower was even in production, neither are particularly reliable, but we think it's reasonable to expect a price tag in the neighborhood of $130 to $200 based on the price points of competing wireless charging devices and Apple's accessory pricing in general.

Which Devices Will Work With AirPower?



  • iPhone - All Qi-compatible iPhones will work with AirPower, which includes iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, iPhone X, iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR.

  • AirPods - Using AirPower with AirPods will require a special wireless AirPods Charging Case, which is not yet available and will presumably launch alongside the AirPower.

  • Apple Watch - AirPower will work with the Apple Watch Series 3 and later. It is not compatible with Series 2 and older watches.

AirPower Rumors


AirPower was announced in September 2017, and at the time, Apple promised a 2018 launch date. Multiple rumors initially suggested a possible March 2018 release, but March came and went, and there was also no sign of AirPower at WWDC in June or at the September iPhone event.

After its September iPhone event, Apple wiped almost every mention of the AirPower from its website, and rumors later in September indicated that Apple was having problems with overheating, interference, and software.

Dire reports suggested the AirPower was doomed to fail if engineers couldn't solve a number of issues plaguing the device, but when the iPhone XS and XS Max launched a bit later in September, we found AirPower documentation, indicating work on the device is still underway.


In October, we heard the AirPower was going to be released in late 2018 or early 2019, but after Apple's October 30th event came and went with no AirPower mention, it became clear Apple wasn't going to make its 2018 deadline.

In December, Apple was still mentioning the AirPower in job listings, and then in early January, refreshed rumors hinted that mass production would soon start.

That brings us up to date. We're hoping for an AirPower launch within the next couple of months now that the accessory is ready for production, but there's still no concrete information on when it might debut.


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