Gone are the days when we used to stuff our mobiles with hundreds of MP3s and eat up most of the device’s storage. Music streaming services have replaced that entirely. This can be backed by the report released by RIAA. According to the report, music streaming services have contributed 75% of the total revenue of the music industry in the US.
Along with the evolution of the music industry, many companies have jumped in to get their piece of cake, leaving the consumers in the dilemma which one to subscribe. Spotify and Apple Music are the two most widely recognized and subscribed streaming services, globally.
In the end, I am going to settle with one of them, but the question is which one should I bet my money on? This question led me to try them both and then reach a conclusion. This post is about my “Sherlock Holmes” experience investigating deep inside both of them.
Below are some of the criteria that I have tried and tested before concluding:
- Sound Quality
- Experimenting the same song with different headphones
- Testing with low volume and then with the full volume
- Finding some really old relics that are hard to find on Google as well
- Feature comparison including UI, UX, AI, and other metrics
TL;DR Version of the Post
- Your decision should mainly depend on the headphones or speakers you use
- Hardware doesn’t make much of a difference unless you are in a hardcore sound industry where you need to be incredibly perfect
- The music library is important, but not a decisive factor
- In a music app, UI, UX, and design play a vital role
- Considering all the above points, Spotify undoubtedly beats the Apple Music. That’s mainly because of the huge music library along with accurate search engine. Also, exceptional UI along with “Handsoff” like feature inside the app
Now that the groundwork is completed, let’s do the actual talking.
Spotify Vs Apple Music
Navigation, User Interface, and User Experience with mobile app
Thanks to Apple Music and also Spotify for giving me 30-days free trial, and I didn’t actually have to pay to use their services. Very first thing I did was to download both, plugin my 3.5mm (I still use my iPhone 6s Plus) headphones (extremely cheap quality).
I just launched Apple Music and created an account. Setting up my profile was a real pain; standing ovation to the bubbles (pun intended). I was to choose from available bubbles; whether it was about the genre, artist, or anything else. There may be a search box, but my little eyes didn’t find it — one to Spotify, zero to Apple Music.
On the other hand, setting up my music preferences as a first-time user on Spotify was really smooth. I was presented with the music universe on my palms.
The process of setting up profile tells a lot about the efforts put by the developers behind their product. Apple lost this one miserably; disappointed to say this, especially being a fan of Apple iPhone and MacBook.
Next was to test the music quality. Some of my findings are below; keep reading.
Remember, I plugged in the cheapest headphones? That was a terrible mistake, don’t do it. If you are paying money to listen to music, better get a decent headphone, else all those monthly subscriptions are a waste.
Anyways, I only wanted to see how both of them sound with the lowest quality headphones and to my surprise, both had the same quality.
Next was to change settings to the highest quality in both the apps, after borrowing a premium account from my colleague. Doing this on the lowest quality headphones! One more terrible mistake to make.
It wasn’t a surprise that both delivered the same quality and also the same music experience, which was pathetic. Thanks to my cheap headphones and no offense to any of the music streaming services.
After making two terrible mistakes, I thought to rectify them by using a premium headphone. Once again, played the same track on both the apps, with medium and high quality. Sounds good on both.
I tried both the apps, with two different headphones on my Mac to see the role hardware plays while streaming music. Trust me when I say this, it really doesn’t make much of a difference. At least not to the normal ears that just want to enjoy music and not actually study sound waves.
Next up on the list is experimentation of important features.
To reiterate, Apple Music UI was particularly disappointing in the mobile app. But having a soft corner for Apple products, I didn’t give up entirely. To compare the two, I downloaded the Spotify Mac app. I already had iTunes, but double checked if it was on the latest version as I didn’t want to do any injustice to my dear Apple.
Again, when it comes to UI, UX, and navigation, the desktop app comparison also was in favor of Spotify. iTunes is an excellent app with almost everything in one place. But it was more convenient to operate a dedicated music app than to get everything in one place; especially when I just want my music.
Apple Watch App
On this turf, Apple has proved that its ecosystem is the best. Both the music streaming giants have dedicated app for Apple Watch, but the Apple Music was simply unbeatable.
Spotify has one major flaw; you cannot scan around their music library using the Apple Watch. It just shows you recently played tracks and you have to select only from those. There’s no way you can search for songs, categories, genre, or anything.
While on the other hand, the Apple Music app had everything on your fingertips, literally. On top of that, Apple Music Watch app also supports Siri, making it further convenient to listen to your favorite soundtrack.
What I personally noticed is that the watch app of Apple Music has much better UX compared to iTunes and iOS app. Maybe they can learn from there and CTRL+C then CTRL+V for iOS and iTunes.
Once again, Apple is unbeatable on this ground as well. That’s mainly because Spotify has no virtual assistant and also no Siri support. On the other hand, Apple Music has the evergreen Siri at your command.
This may not be the decisive factor for subscribing to music streaming service, but some users like me that like to tweak the music experience may find it helpful.
I tried searching everywhere, but there is no equalizer in Apple Music. Though you can select preset equalizer configurations from the Settings app on the iOS, but that’s not what I am looking for.
Spotify not only has an equalizer, but they also have many preset at your disposal. On top of that, you can also play around the equalizer and tweak the sound the way you like.
The Number Game
Up until now, things were limited to usability and features, but now comes the real battle. Who has the most number of songs? Looking at numbers with a simple Google search, Apple Music has a library of approximately 45 million songs while Spotify has nearly 35 million songs.
Personally, this is irrelevant because no one listens to these many songs; at least not me. But it is undoubtedly helpful when it comes down to finding your favorite song even if it is deep down in history.
Another thing to note is that Apple Music also has video songs, while I wasn’t able to find any on Spotify. On top of that, Apple Music also has the option to view the lyrics of the song you are listening to. There’s no native support for lyrics in Spotify, but there are third-party apps like Genius that add the functionality.
Besides that, with millions of songs in the library, the search algorithm plays a vital role in finding the right soundtrack at the right time. In this aspect, the Spotify search is much more accurate compared to Apple Music.
There’s no comparison here because the iCloud library is exclusively for Apple devices. With different options to have your music on the go, the iCloud library is much more convenient to stream music across multiple devices. While Spotify has no such cloud option, it certainly has handoff like feature to stream music on various devices.
In my personal opinion, Spotify was much easier to move between devices. I had Spotify app open on my Mac, not playing anything. When I launched the app on my iPhone, it automatically asked me if I wanted to play music on my Mac. That was cool.
When it comes to the final decision, everything matters on the money. Surprisingly, both the service providers have the same plans with the same pricing. You can get an individual, student, or family subscription for $4.99, $9.99, and $14.99 respectively on Apple Music and Spotify.
Apple has a dedicated app for Podcasts while Spotify has integrated that entire module in their app. This again brings me back to the User experience argument. If I get everything in one place, why will I download multiple apps, and manage them? I can quickly move between my songs and podcasts without needing to open any other app.
On top of that, Spotify also has almost all Podcast that Apple offers; this makes it unnecessary for me to use Apple Music.
Apple Music impressed me at a lot of fronts, but for me, the winner is Spotify. The reason is simple; I don’t want to navigate here and there to listen to my music. Most of the times we listen to music either when we are working, and we don’t want any disturbance. Another time is when we have nothing to do but relax.
In either case, I don’t want to waste my time navigating. Also, moving between devices while listening to a song was smooth in Spotify.
My verdict doesn’t necessarily mean Apple Music isn’t worth it. Spotify fulfills my requirement in a much better way. For you, it may be Apple Music. I prefer smooth and simple UI while choosing an app, and if Apple Music redefines its layout completely, I may indeed give it a second thought.
That was my experience operating both the apps and selecting the one as my music companion. To reiterate, the sound quality is almost identical on both the services, but you need to have decent headphones, if not premium. With that said, I’ll leave the decision on you and head off to listen to my favorite soundtracks.
You may also like to explore:
- Spotify Keyboard Shortcuts for Mac and Windows PC
- Best Siri Shortcuts for Spotify: Use Tongue to Pour Music in Your Ears
- How to Set an Apple Music Song as Alarm on Your iPhone
Have something to add to this post? Share it in the comments.