It does this through an interface that's hot rolled steel coil to make listening to music feel as interactive as possible — like forming a friendship, or even a love affair. At the heart of every winning aspect of Beats is a commitment to what should be obvious in 2014 — that music is not a product, but a process grounded in the human impulse to connect. "Music is the tonal analogue of emotive life," the philosopher once wrote; for both its makers and listeners, music can become a kind of doppelganger for feelings as it unfolds over time and then replays, not only on vinyl or whatever other material that contains it, but within our musings and memories. Once music could be recorded, that analogue became actually analog, then digital; people confused the packages holding it with the thing itself. Which wasn't a thing. Thus the age of recordings unfolded, confusing us. Kids slept with their transistor radios and kissed the faces of their idols on album covers.

It begins with the process of hooking up: during sign-up, Beatsy asked me a few questions that wouldn't have been out of place on an early date with my own music-nerd husband. What kind of music do you like? No, wait, get more specific: Choose three favorite artists. No cheating! I pondered: Do I want to tell the interface I very occasionally listen to New Age? I could almost hear Beatsy chuckle seductively when I went ahead and filled in all of the available bubbles, trying to hedge my bets and, dare I say, impress him. Because this process works through animation instead of a standard form, it feels more personal and continually compelling. Beatsy listens and responds.

The great thing about the fluid and disembodied nature of streaming is that it reveals that there is no product, no end point or object to music: just playing, listening, loving, remembering, reinterpreting. This has always been true. Yet we can't comprehend this without a way to talk about it. The people behind Beats seem to understand that love is the way.  Its success depends upon users' willingness to feel something about a computer program, to use that program as an intermediary in creating human relationships, and ultimately to be in relationship with the interface itself, enjoying its subtleties with the smiling abandon of Joaquin Phoenix dancing with his virtual lover on the Santa Monica boardwalk. The process of getting to know Beats reveals how it evokes artificial intelligence.

The Beats slogan "Music is emotion" sounds like a corny catchphrase. But "music is relationship" is science — the sound waves hitting my ear, its signals running through my brain. The Beats interface is all about that relationship, and more than that, it offers that relationship by becoming a companion. From the sign-up screen, with its gently rounded font and frequent, trust-building use of the word "you," Beats Music is designed to resemble a sentient being. It's nowhere near as good on the web as on my phone; it's designed for the devices we caress with our fingertips and make our constant companions. Like Samantha, in Her, Beatsy doesn't feel like a prop. It's more like a character.