If you own an iPhone, chances are that you’ve already updated your phone to iOS version 8.4 a couple of days ago. While this update brought with it a few tweaks, the most noticeable difference that the update brought was the addition of Apple Music, Apple’s foray into the wonderful world of streaming music. As an avid user of Spotify Premium, but also somebody who can appreciate free things as much as the next person I thought I would go ahead and give the 3-month free trial a whirl to see how it compared to my beloved Spotify.
Apple Music wouldn’t be my first adventure away from Spotify, as I have also tried Xbox Music and Google Play Music at one point as well. However, I found that I preferred Spotify over the others in the end – mostly because I already had my playlists set up and ready to go. In all honesty I probably wouldn’t have given Apple Music a second thought, but the fact that they’re offering a 3-month free trial as opposed to your typical 30-day offer, not to mention the extremely affordable family plan ($14.99 for six people) I decided to give a go. For the past two days I’ve been toying with Apple Music trying to figure out whether this could be a viable Spotify replacement for me.
Part of the reason I liked Spotify over the alternatives was because I preferred the look and feel of the software compared to the competition. The dark background and green text has always been aesthetically pleasing to me. Fortunately, Apple Music actually looks pretty good most of the time, too. It’s color-coordinated and the frosted glass that’s seen throughout other areas of iOS (Notification and Control Centers) is used in Apple Music’s design as well. There are a couple of instances where stark blacks and whites are used and it doesn’t look great, but overall it’s nothing horrendous.
One thing I was really paying attention to was how well the app responded, both with loading screens and music. Both worked well most of the time. Music playback was responsive and didn’t take too long to load, and transition from screen to screen was quick. Performance of the app is solid on the iPhone 6, but older models may have a different experience.
Song availability on Spotify is another reason why I liked the service, as Spotify had even the most obscure albums that I wanted to listen to. Apple Music has a robust amount of music at its disposal as well. I have yet to come across something that wasn’t available, but that’s to be expected as both services have about the same amount of songs (30 million+). When it comes to finding the music you want, Apple Music is on par with Spotify.
Unfortunately, this is where Apple Music falls short. Although the actual interface doesn’t look bad, the organization of the app overall is really confusing and rather overwhelming. There’s an overload of information on a lot of pages and it’s not exactly simplified. This might just be one of those things that will take more than a couple of days to adjust to, but it really does feel like there’s an overload of information here and no clear direction on how to do certain actions within the app.
In order to set itself apart from the competition, Apple prides itself in a couple of key features in Apple Music: better connectivity to the artists that you love and a big focus on the “Radio” portion of the app. So far I’ve found that Apple’s algorithms match up pretty well to my musical tastes, which they based off of a selection of a few artists and bands. The radio stations are plentiful and the ones I have listened to have great variety. The 24/7 streaming of the Beats 1 live radio station is also pretty neat, I have to admit.
The one thing I’m really not happy about is that there is currently no feature to switch playlists over from other streaming music services. Since I’ve spent a lot of time putting together Spotify playlists and I don’t really feel like going through it again.
I’ll be keeping my eye on Apple Music, and I do appreciate the 3-month free trial – really, it was a good move from Apple. I hope to see vast improvements happen over the next several months before rolling out its Android version in the fall. For now I’ll probably end up simultaneously using Apple Music and Spotify – Apple Music for the radio, Spotify for the playlists and the ease of use. In short, Apple Music isn’t the best, but it could have been worse.