Apple Music is a very good music streaming app, but it does lag slightly behind its competitors when it comes to music discovery. Now, however, Apple has added a new feature called ‘Discovery Station’, and it aims to help you find more tracks that you might like. We’ve given it a spin — here’s our first thoughts on the new feature.
A new way to find tunes
Discovery Station acts as a way for you to find new music that you might like, linked to the music that you already have in your library. That means if you listen to a lot of Lana Del Rey, you’ll get more music that sounds like Lana Del Rey. Have a lot of Metallica in your library? Then it will show you loads of thrash metal, so that you can find all the angry, cathartic loudness you need.
The new station is found under the Listen Now section of the Apple Music app, within the Top Picks segment. In essence, it’s a constantly updating playlist that populates itself with loads of music so that you can just pop on and have a listen to. AppleInsider first noted that the new feature pulls inspiration from your library, as well as music that you’ve liked previously — although also seems to avoid putting music from your existing library in the list.
Wouldn’t be much of a discovery tool if it put music you already listen to in there now, would it?
Apple Music Discover Station: iMore’s take
Apple Music is a very curated service, with playlists and play-next queues populated by real people, and not fuelled by an AI DJ such as services like Spotify. That means that it’s a little more restricted in the breadth of what it usually suggests to you, but it also means that you’re less likely to skip tracks as they play — someone who likes the same music as you has made the list after all, and that human connection usually means you’re more likely to enjoy the music as well.
Despite our best guesses, Apple does not say how this new Discover Station is curated, although it seems unlikely that there’s someone at Apple curating lists for every single user of the platform. It’s likely some kind of algorithm is behind it, although there is no confirmation from the platform as to how it actually works.
But from a brief play with it, the feature is a super solid way of finding new tunes in. My music taste, for example, is about as eclectic as it comes — in one breath shifting from Norwegian Black Metal to crispy 50s jazz recordings and contemporary pop acts. The Discover Station, in my experience, did a great job of finding music like that in my library, showing me tracks from artists I knew, but also artists I’d never heard of before. The play queue seems to be generated on a track-by-track basis, so you only know the next single track rather than what the next few tracks are going to be.
Technically, Spotify does still do a similar sort of curation slightly better; there is an up-next queue that shows you the next couple of tracks that will be coming up, and the interface remains slightly cleaner. This is, however, a welcome addition to a constantly improving music app.