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Hands-on with Apple Music’s new social discovery feature in iOS 11

Apple Music in iOS 11 brings new social features that help you discover new music based on what your friends are playing. The new friends feature is already available to test in the iOS 11 developer and public beta to give us an idea of how it will work on Apple Music later this fall.

This is how Apple describes iOS 11’s new friends feature:

Now your friends can help you discover new songs and artists. Each of you can have your own profile on Apple Music, where you can see playlists they’ve shared as well as albums and stations they listen to often.

There’s much more to it, of course, including friend recommendations, verified accounts, privacy settings, and even hiding playlists and albums from your activity.

The new social feature starts from the For You tab right below the New Music and Favorites playlists. You can see albums, playlists, and stations played by friends you follow, and below that you can find friend recommendations for more people to follow.

Recommended music will show the avatar of the friend or friends who played it, and you can tap through to see links to their full profile as well. Using your real profile picture helps when names aren’t presented, and some users (Apple execs so far) even have verified profiles.

You can learn a lot from someone’s user profile too. You’ll find playlists that they create and share, a timeline of what music they’re listening to, who they follow on Apple Music, and who follows them as well.

If you find a playlist that an Apple Music friend has created, you can add it to your library which lets you subscribe to any updates they make to it. You also see several recent albums, editor playlists, and radio stations from their profile which you can add to your library, but there’s no way to add everything they’ve recently played.

From your own profile (which you can view by tapping your avatar on the For You tab), you’re able to view and control what Apple Music friends see when they follow you or view your profile. For example, you can edit your avatar and nickname, make your account public or limited to approved friends, and even share a link to your profile page.

Of course if you play music that you may not want your friends to see, there’s a way to manually hide an item from your Listening To stream. You can do this with a Long press or 3D Touch to reveal additional actions, then look for ‘Hide from profile…’ at the top of the list.

Playlists that you create on Apple Music can also be public or private. When editing a playlist, look for the toggle to share the playlist in search and on your profile to control whether or not other users can find it.

For more on iOS 11, check out these hands-on videos from the 9to5Mac YouTube channel:

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Avatar for Zac Hall Zac Hall

Zac covers Apple news for 9to5Mac and hosts the 9to5Mac Happy Hour and 9to5Mac Watch Time podcasts.