iTunes Radio review - 12/15/2013 - no repeats!

Discussion in 'Apple Music, Apple Pay, iCloud, Apple Services' started by smithrh, Dec 15, 2013.

  1. smithrh macrumors 68020

    smithrh

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2009
    #1
    There's a reason I put the date in the title; like many, I've experienced the issues others have reported, such as repeats, inappropriate songs and just overall weirdness from time to time. Every extended session I've had with Radio has experienced moderate to extreme issues - until last Friday. I'm running Radio as I write this, and I hope Friday wasn't a fluke, but rather how Radio is going to work going forward.

    Let's start with the cool stuff, which is what has kept me using Radio since it came out. Without the cool stuff, I would have abandoned Radio a long time ago.

    * Very high quality - the encoding rate and overall quality is extremely high. So much so that I hear detail and nuance in songs that I've never heard before - even on many songs I already own. This has led to me enjoying old songs all over again, and to an understanding that there's a whole 'nuther discovery process open here. That is, not just new or forgotten songs, but songs I already know and love. Now, to be clear, there are some crummy encodes I've heard - but they're the exception.

    * Content - something I haven't seen mentioned anywhere is that many of the songs played over Radio are not the exact same version that have been played over the radio. Many times, they're just a bit different, but many times, whole parts are restored that were edited out previously. The removed parts could be choruses, lyrics or instrument solos. Some songs that were, for example, 4 minutes long on a radio playlist are now 30-45-60 seconds longer. Some might not like this, but I find it fully awesome.

    * Respect for the listener - I very much appreciate that the music is never faded in or out and that songs are never played over each other or ads. The song is played in its entirety. There's a second or three between each song and ad. Songs download in their entirety well before they're played as well, so I've never ever had an interruption in a song. Basically it's not technically streaming per se, but rather full downloads strung together.

    OK, that's the good stuff. Let's talk about issues, starting with what may be fixed now (and there are my observations for my account - YMMV of course):

    * Inappropriate songs for a station - oh, I've heard some weird stuff. I for one did not know that Ambient was played on the radio in the 70s, did you? Or French techno-pop either. Those are the obvious "oops" but more subtle mistakes have been pretty common as well. I'd hear something amiss maybe once or twice an hour - but after listening for 6 hours since last Friday I've heard nothing that belongs out of the channel. Fingers crossed!

    * Repeats. O. M. G. - This has been simply terrible, as people have noted. My personal record was a song repeated 6 times in a row. After the 4th time I pressed "never play this song again" and it played again - twice. That's actually 2 bugs in one: repeating a song and ignoring my request to not play it again! As I write this, I need to check to see if the song is downloading each time - it could be that Apple is caching a song for insurance purposes when the servers can't serve up a new song. But I may not be able to do that, as the last 6 hours have been repeat free. Fingers crossed here too!

    Now onto things that may not yet be fixed - basically because I haven't been able to verify yet:

    * "Play more of this" choices not always retained: before Friday, since there were a lot of repeats, I could easily mark a song and see it again unmarked, and yet see some marked songs (red star) that I knew I marked previously. Now I can't verify this since there haven't been any repeats.

    * "Never play this again" choices not retained - I talked about this above. May be fixed, can't tell. I suppose I could keep hitting "Don't" over and over again but I'd hit the skip maximum pretty quickly that way... which leads me to:

    * "Never play this again" has been counted as a skip - this was horribly annoying when repeats were common - at this point in time with no repeats and no inappropriate music it's a not really a factor, but we'll see how it goes.

    By the way, I'm not an iTunes Match person (yet) so all of this relates to the free service.

    Bottom line, iTunes Radio has gone from a curiosity with potential, bordering on being unusable to a very solid offering. Since Friday anyways - fingers are still crossed, but it's behaved itself very nicely as I wrote this, even without giving it any input whatsoever, which is how it should work.
     
  2. JackieInCo macrumors 601

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2013
    Location:
    Colorado
    #2
    I've always enjoyed using it. I am an iTunes Match subscriber so I get the commercial free version but it still has limited skips. I get around that by creating multiple stations. When I am out of skips on one, I switch to another station.

    Also, the quality of the artwork is tops on a huge amount of the music played. I am using a 5S and Retina Mini.

    For the rest, I agree with everything you have said above.
     
  3. smithrh thread starter macrumors 68020

    smithrh

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2009
    #3
    Been able to listen for long sessions again a few more times since my original post.

    Ads are getting a bit more varied - I'm hoping that's a sign of health and that advertisers are buying in. No, I don't like ads, but I do like this offering so I'd like to see it stick around.

    Still no repeats, which is great. The "stations" I listen to seem to have a few dozen seed songs which get a lot of play - I suppose I need to participate a bit more and tell them which songs I like/dislike, but I do like just letting the stations play and see what happens.

    I created some new stations and I suspect some stations are curated better than others.

    For example, I tried to create a "Motown" station, and I tried the stations it suggested, and they're all odd in some way - many didn't play Motown songs at all. Odd. I had better luck when I specified a Motown artist. Hopefully someone is looking at the seed songs used to create the stations to make sure someone hasn't made some coding or classification errors, or just injected some personal preferences into the mix.

    So, it continues to be improved, but the bar continues to be raised as well.
     

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