As Apple continues its shift into a services-oriented company, it’s doing everything it can to position Apple Music as a streaming service that’s independent of its hardware ecosystem, making it available on everything from basic Alexa-enabled speakers to gorgeous Porsche sports cars.
We saw the first obvious indication of this when Apple launched Apple Music for Android very soon after the service first launched back in 2015. Not only was the Android version of Apple Music as fully-featured a counterpart to the iOS version as it was possible to make it on that platform, but it even embraced Android-specific features. Further, Apple also continued to iterate on the Android app, keeping it on par with changes in newer iOS updates. Looking back, it should have been obvious four years ago that Apple really wanted people to take its streaming service on its own merits, and not simply see it as “an Apple thing” like iTunes had become.
Now it looks like rumours earlier this year that Apple was planning on adding support for Google’s Chromecast wireless streaming protocols are in fact coming to fruition. According to 9to5Google, the latest beta update to Apple Music for Android has flipped the switch, adding Chromecast support for streaming from the Apple Music app to any Chromecast-equipped device, from Google’s own eponymous receiver to any of the huge collection of home entertainment systems that support the protocol.
Although Apple made some big strides this year in bringing AirPlay to major TV brands, the list of television sets supporting Apple’s own streaming protocol is still dwarfed by the number of devices that have Google’s Chromecast built in. Plus, of course, Android devices themselves still can’t act as AirPlay transmitters, even from Apple’s own Apple Music app. The assumption here is obviously that Android users live in the Google ecosystem, and are more likely to have Chromecast devices than AirPlay devices anyway, but it also shows that Apple really is more interested in getting users to subscribe to Apple Music than it is in using it as the “thin edge of the wedge” to encourage users to move to Apple hardware.
There’s Even More Coming
Apple also recently added a dedicated dark mode to the beta version of the Android Apple Music app, likely to mirror the same change coming in iOS 13, and this latest Apple Music app update also adds over 100,000 radio stations too.
In the latter case, it seems that Apple wants to position Apple Music as a go-to app for Android users, bringing in stations from TuneIn, Radio.com, and iHeartRadio all under a single umbrella.
This mirrors a similar addition on the iOS side, where Siri Live Radio can be used to call up a massive number of live radio stations. While the feature was promised to fully arrive in iOS 13, it’s actually already available in iOS 12, since it’s mostly a back-end change on Apple’s servers. On iOS, of course, it’s presented as more of a core service, since it works with Siri, but it’s underpinned by the Apple Music app, so it makes sense to provide the same capabilities in the Android version.
At this point all of these features remain in beta, and it’s not certain when they’ll arrive in the public version of the app, however since many of them mirror the capabilities found in the iOS 13 Apple Music experience, it’s a safe bet that the new Android version will follow close on the heels of the public iOS 13 release next month.