It’s been close to a month since I started using Apple Music, Apple’s newest streaming service, out to compete directly with Spotify. As a Spotify user for 6 months prior to Apple Music’s launch, there are distinct differences between the two services.
Personally, I think Apple Music has a better music collection available for streaming. I can’t say this definitively, but I have encountered time and time again, where artists’ latest album releases are simply not yet available on Spotify. Of course, the most coveted artist, Taylor Swift, made her entire music collection only available on Apple Music. Third Eye Blind’s latest, Dopamine doesn’t seem to be available on Spotify as with a number of movie soundtrack, compilations, acoustic albums and other more obscure titles.
Spotify’s playlist sharing feature is not available on Apple Music. I love the way how Spotify allows you to share playlists with others and it is quite amazing to discover them. Apple focuses on curated playlist, created by real human beings, people, who are passionate about music. They are essentially professional people working in the music industry, who knows how to compile music together to created playlist based on theme, genre, or era. Personally, I am going to side with Spotify playlist sharing feature, which, while may be flawed, because you might encounter empty playlists, makes discovering weird and wonderful playlists fun.
Spotify allows you to go to the artist’s page or album list, when listening to any music. Apple music app does not have this feature, which makes it frustrating sometimes. For example, if I encounter a new artist from one of Apple’s Curated Playlist, there is just no way to go to the artist’s page and see all the songs he or she has ever produced. Instead, I would have to tap on the search bar and then do a search. This makes music exploration a little less intuitive. I do like the curated playlist however, but I am sure, given time, more playlists would be created for users in the coming months, offering a diverse range of preferences for different users with wildly different tastes.
Apple music is just not snappy enough, especially browsing from one song to the next. Unlike Spotify, there is a noticeable lag or buffer when skipping from one song to the next, either from a playlist (assuming none of them were downloaded for offline listening) or from an album, or from the iTunes chart list. Spotify is really snappy, skipping songs is much faster, with less buffering needed to start the music playing. This buffering lag, is made worse if you have a bad connection. I know this because from where I use my pc at home, my wifi hotspot is pretty far away, and I usually get less than ideal wifi connection. Try streaming music through Apple Music with a 3G connection. It is just a pain to use sometimes. Spotify on the other hand is still usable most times and I do not encounter long buffering lags even with a bad connection. Spotify app on the iOS is even more impressive with the tap and hold feature. This allows you to preview song snippets in your playlist without interrupting your current music being played. This just shows the robustness of Spotify in their buffering technology.
On a more personal note, (and this is a deal breaker for me when it comes to which service I would ultimate subscribe to) I have problems streaming music from the Apple Music app when I’m on my workplace’s wifi network. After having checked with my IT department to get clearance and advice on how to allow data to pass through the company’s wifi router, their refuse to do it due to security issues. Even my workplace’s mac connected to an ethernet connection simply wouldn’t allow packets of data coming from Apple Music’s server to go through. As such, I cannot use Apple Music to listen to my favorite songs via Wifi. I am not willing to burn through my 4G data just by listening to music. Spotify work perfectly fine on either platform, and that unfortunately becomes the biggest deciding factor.
So ultimately, given my personal experiences, which service would I choose? I have 2 months left to my Apple Music subscription, thanks to the 3 month free subscription upon signing up. But once that is up, I think I will revert to Spotify. Sorry Apple Music, I think you are just not ready for primetime yet. While your music collection is impressive, I can live without a song or two in my playlist. What I ultimately value more in a such services, is the robustness of the app or software used for streaming. And, I can stream while at work via wifi. Spotify wins in this regard.