Apple Music, Apple's rather belated foray into streaming music, is about to be unleashed upon us in a little while.
Unlike its biggest competitors -- Spotify, Pandora and Google Play Music -- Apple Music will be available in more than 100 countries around the world, India included.
At its core, Apple Music smoothly integrates your existing iTunes library with millions of tracks from Apple's own music catalogue and lets you stream all those tracks from Apple devices. But it also packs in much more.
Here's everything you need to know before you sign up for it:
1. There are three components to Apple Music: the ability to combine your own music with Apple's iTunes catalogue, a Connect section where you can follow artists and get sneak peeks at upcoming music, videos, lyrics and more, and a global internet radio station called Beats 1, which is fashioned along the lines of an old-fashioned FM station complete with DJs and interviews.
2. Getting it is simple. At 8:30 PM IST, Apple will release iOS 8.4 for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. Simply upgrade and sign up through the brand new Music app. On the desktop, you'll get an update for iTunes, which will allow you to access Apple Music on your Mac or PC.
3. You'll still be able to buy and download music from iTunes, by the way. Apple Music doesn't replace that.
4. You'll have access to millions of songs from Apple's existing music catalogue, but no one knows exactly how many. The number of songs available will go up with time as Apple works on getting more labels and artists to sign up for the service.
5. Apple Music will be free for the first three months -- yes, really! A monthly subscription in India will reportedly cost Rs. 120 a month for individuals, but you can add upto 6 people, each with their own Apple accounts in the family plan, which, for Rs. 180 a month, is a terrific deal.
6. If you're an Android user, you'll be able to sign up for Apple Music too. You'll just have a wait a little longer. The Apple Music Android app will be available in September.
7. Apple Music will integrate with Siri, so you can simply say something like "Play Bollywood hits from the 80s" to instantly start playing. Nifty.