I just wrote about how Apple may be blocking Spotify from working seamlessly with their hardware. I was worried that these type of tactics from Apple may give AppleMusic the upper hand. In some ways I wanted Apple’s new service to give me a great reason to switch as all of my owned tracks still sat in iTunes and the idea of having everything integrated into one place made a lot of sense. Unfortunately, aside from the deeper hardware integration, AppleMusic was a total disaster and here’s why.
Sound quality. Maybe my ears need tuning but Apple’s service is all treble and no bass. Spotify is a much better sounding service overall, with deeper bass and more range. Spotify also allows you to control the quality of your stream to help you adjust for cellular or wifi. Something Apple does not allow you to do.
User interface. Trying to find your way around Apple’s labyrinth of inconsistent, multiple menus….good luck with that. The complexity overkill that everyone is complaining about is an understatement. It is pretty clear that Apple destroyed what used to be a great Beats UI by throwing everything and the kitchen sink into it. There is a reason that mobile apps need to be simpler than a desktop experience. You don’t need to be able to replicate every menu across every platform. Simple things like allowing you to easily navigate from a song that is playing to seeing more by that artist or viewing the entire album is completely missing from AppleMusic. These things Spotify does oh-so-well.
Discovery. Maybe Apple has great discovery but navigating it is like wandering into a forest while forgetting to mark your way. You will never find your way back. Apple does give you great options for searching on a granular level, but its overkill. Before you get complex, you have to get the simple stuff right first. Supposedly Apple is curating playlists by hand as it does not believe algorithms do the best job. Maybe that is true, but because AppleMusic navigation is so poor, I still discover music more effortlessly on Spotify. Apple gives me more of what I want (maybe because it is using my old library to measure my taste level?), while Spotify helps me to expand what it is that I listen to. But the main driver that differentiates Spotify is social. Until Apple incorporates a Facebook login, it will remain an island unto itself. Oddly enough @AppleMusic is on Twitter and I was able to discover more from their Twitter feed than I did from within the actual app! Some of the best music I find usually comes from friends with great taste in music via Spotify’s Facebook integration.
Radio. Beats1 will never work simply because it can never be all things to all people. I listened to Beats1 at various points over the weekend and did not hear much that I would not hear from any major urban radio station. Nor did I discover much new music from it…just like on the radio. Blah.
AppleMusic is good at some things, but not much. Seamlessly integrating all of my music – the albums I own with the new streaming service is a great thing. AppleMusic also does a much better job of integrating into the hardware that it owns and I never have a problem connecting the music stream to remote devices, or to my car like I do when trying to connect Spotify. This will be getting Apple into a lot of trouble soon I am sure. Apple’s search is also much more powerful, like allowing you to search by genres as one example…but like I mentioned above, the navigation is so complex that the benefits are lost to the user.
Spotify overall, is a much better experience, and I guess they should be as they have focused on streaming for much longer than Apple. I wanted Apple to show me something that would make me want to switch. Spotify is a hard act to follow for those of us that love it and have all of our playlists already well curated. Maybe Apple cares less about converting us Spotify fans over to AppleMusic and their focus is on Apple fans and everyone else that have yet to convert to streaming music. Overall I hope those people give Spotify a shot because Spotify deserves it. Apple may gobble up a huge part of the market, but before they do they need to earn it. Lets also hope the marketplace realizes that we are all be better off with two major music streaming services vs. one large brand that dominates.