As promised, Tuesday morning Apple released the free iOS 8.4 software update which introduces an all-new Music app with Apple Music and Beats 1 built-in. The over-the-air update is now available for the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad devices. As these things take some time to propagate, the software update may not show up in your region yet.
“This update introduces Apple Music—a revolutionary music service, 24/7 global radio, and a way for fans to connect with their favorite artists—all included in the redesigned Music app,” release notes accompanying the update explain. “iOS 8.4 also includes improvements for iBooks and bug fixes,” Apple states.
To apply the update over-the-air, open the Settings app on your iPhone, iPod touch or iPad and choose Software Update in the General section. Alternatively, connect your device via USB cable to a Mac or Windows PC running the latest version of iTunes and an update prompt should pop up automatically.
What’s new in iOS 8.4?
iOS 8.4 includes several new features mostly revolving around Apple Music, Beats 1 and iTunes Radio along with several enhancements and refinements of existing features.
The redesigned Music app now includes the new Apple Music service with Beats 1 radio station, a mini-player that can be pulled down or brought up from any screen, the ability to add your own thumbnail and description to any playlist and much more.
The new Music experience includes a more streamlined iTunes Radio experience, a new Global Search option, Up Next queuing and other improvements.
Next, iOS 8.4 allows digital publications created with Apple’s free iBooks Author app to be viewed on your iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus complete with videos, Study Cards, the glossary, highlights and linked online content.
Before today, only digital textbooks were supported on iPhones.
On a similar note, Audiobooks—a feature that was previously part of the stock Music app—has been relocated to the iBooks app. A new Audiobooks for CarPlay is available with iOS 8.4 as well, giving drivers a dedicated app for hands-free listening of their audiobooks.
In addition to the aforesaid new feature and enhancements, the software contains a number of bug fixes, including one that has patched an annoying bug which could crash an iOS device after receiving a specific string of symbols and Arabic characters through iMessage, SMS, Snapchat, Twitter, WhatsApp and other messaging software.
iOS 8.4: Music app improvements
Apple has provided the following release notes for iOS 8.4’s Music app:
- All-New Design—Music app has a beautiful new design that makes exploring your music collection easier and more fun. Personalize playlists by adding your own image and description. Enjoy stunning pictures of your favorite artists in the Artists view. Start playing an album right from the album list. The music you love is never more than a tap away.
- Recently Added—Albums and playlists you’ve recently added are now at the top of your library, making it effortless to find something new to play. Simply tap play on the artwork to listen.
- Streamlined iTunes Radio—Discovering music with iTunes Radio is easier than ever. You can now quickly return to your favorite stations in Recently Played. Choose from a selection of hand-curated stations in Featured Stations, or start a new one from your favorite artist or song.
- New MiniPlayer—With the new MiniPlayer, you can see what’s playing and control playback while browsing your music collection. To open Now Playing, just tap on the MiniPlayer.
Improved Now Playing. Now Playing has a stunning new design that showcases your album artwork the way it was meant to be. In addition, you can begin wirelessly streaming your music using AirPlay without leaving Now Playing.
- Up Next—It’s now simple to find out which songs from your library will play next. Just tap the Up Next icon in Now Playing. You can even reorder, add, or skip songs whenever you like.
- Global Search—You can now search from anywhere in the Music app — just tap the magnifying glass. Search results are conveniently organized to help you quickly find that perfect song. You can even start an iTunes Radio station right from Search.
iOS 8.4: Apple Music
These are Apple Music highlights Apple provided in iOS 8.4 release notes:
- Become an Apple Music member to play from millions of songs in the Apple Music catalog, or keep them offline for playback later
- For You: Members can see playlist and album recommendations, handpicked by music experts
- New: Members can find the latest, greatest new music available—direct from our editors
- Radio: Tune in to music, interviews, and exclusive radio shows on Beats 1, play radio stations created by our editors or create your own from any artist or song
- Connect: See shared thoughts, photos, music, and videos from artists you follow, then join the conversation
- My Music: Play from all of your iTunes purchases, songs from Apple Music, and playlists in one place
- Completely redesigned music player that includes new features such as Recently Added, MiniPlayer, Up Next and more
- iTunes Store: Still the best place to buy your favorite music—one song or album at a time
- Availability and features may vary by country
iOS 8.4: iBooks improvements and fixes
- Browse, listen and download audiobooks from inside iBooks
- Enjoy the all-new Now Playing feature, designed specifically for audiobooks
- Books that are Made for iBooks now work on iPhone in addition to iPad
- Find and pre-order books in a series right from your library
- Improves accessibility of widgets, glossary and navigation in books made with iBooks Author
- New default Chinese font
- New setting to turn off Auto-Night theme in your library
- Resolves an issue that may have prevented Hide Purchases from working
- Resolves an issue that may have prevented downloading books from iCloud
iOS 8.4: Other improvements and bug fixes
- Fixes an issue where receiving a specific series of Unicode characters causes device to reboot
- Fixes an issue that prevented GPS accessories from providing location data
- Fixes an issue where deleted Apple Watch apps could re-install
As per usual, the security content of this and other Apple software updates is available in a support document here.
What you need to join Apple Music
The headline new feature is, of course, Apple Music.
“On Apple Music, all the ways you love music can now live together,” says the firm.
To enjoy Apple Music, you must deploy iOS 8.4 to your devices and update your copy of desktop iTunes to the latest version with built-in Apple Music support. Just launch iTunes on your Mac and choose iTunes > Check for Updates (Help > Check for Updates if you’re in Windows) and follow the prompts to install the latest version.
Users testing iOS 9 will get a new seed with Apple Music support, too.
You can sign up for a free three-month trial of Apple Music through iTunes or the Music app on your iPhone, iPod touch or iPad. Following the expiration of your free trial, Apple will be charging your credit card on file $9.99 per month, or $14.99 for a family of six.
In exchange for month-to-month payments, you’ll enjoy the ability to stream any track from Apple’s vast catalog of more than thirty million songs, mark individual songs, albums or playlist for offline playback, take advantage of unlimited skipping of songs on radio stations and iTunes Match scan-and-match features with 25,000 song limit (increasing to 100,000 songs when iOS 9 launches this fall), human curation and more.
Free users get to enjoy Beats 1, Apple’s 24/7 Internet radio station that starts broadcasting today at 9am Pacific. Beats 1 is hosted by celebrity DJs Zane Lowe, Ebro Darden and Julie Adenuga who’ll provide live programming from London, Los Angeles and New York with a little help from musicians like Elton John, Dr. Dre and Pharrell Drake who will have their own programming blocks.
Eminem is expected to be the first guest interviewed on Beats 1.
Apple Music is coming to Android and Apple TV this fall.