Ahead of Apple’s big event next week a new beta has popped up at the URL https://beta.music.apple.com. The beta gives you access to Apple Music, the rebranded, music-focused element of the entity formally known as iTunes.
iTunes is expected to be removed from macOS with the upcoming update to 10.15 Catalina, and already replaced iTunes in iOS back in 2017 with iOS 10. Apple Music, which initially existed as a music service before replacing iTunes, launched in 2015 and replaced Beats Music, which also had a web version.
The new web version is attractive, and, at least for me, faster feeling than the version of iTunes found in macOS 10.14. However, at least one person at the Gizmodo office reported the service failing to load in his browser. Instead, it opened iTunes, which promptly froze. After the affected Gizmodo staffer noted he was using a 2015 MacBook Air with 10.11 El Capitan installed I declined to speak to him further.
While El Capitan users could be out of luck, an Apple spokesperson reportedly told the Verge that the beta would work on all browsers, including Chromium-based ones like Chrome and Edge, as well as Windows 10, Android, and Chrome OS. We’ve confirmed it works on Windows 10.
As noted by developer Steve Troughton-Smith this new beta seems to hint that apps—at least for Apple—could one day take a backseat to the web. It would be alarming for Apple to make such a move. Apps like the soon-to-be-defunct iTunes, Final Cut Pro, and News have been a key way that Apple has kept users plugged into its ecosystem. The idea, for a very long time, has been you need to go all-in on Apple if you want the best experience.
However with Apple’s big move into services this year, that’s clearly got to change. No one will pay a monthly subscription for TV+ or News+, or even Apple Music, if the services can’t be used across platforms with little effort. Why subscribe to TV+ when Netflix works on everything right? Right?
We’ve already seen Apple move away from a previously guiding philosophy for the company. AirPlay 2 is on Sonos. Along with Apple Movies, it’s also available on Vizio, Samsung, and LG TVs—no Apple-made set-top box required.
Who knows, maybe Arcade could come to Android one day. Or News+ on Windows. As Apple starts prioritizing services over hardware anything could be possible—and the need to buy into the ecosystem could become a lot less necessary.