Apple announced Apple Music earlier in the week, but while the company has bold visions of revolutionising the entire music industry (again), it needs to overcome Spotify first.
In its favour, Apple Music has the celebrity backing of Drake, the leadership of two music industry veterans in Jimmy Iovine and Dr Dre, a 24-hour radio station directed by Zane Lowe, and of course Apple’s vast cash reserves for advertising purposes.
But at its heart, Apple Music is just another music streaming service. And when it comes to music streaming services, none are bigger right now than Spotify.
We’ve discussed why you might switch from Spotify to Apple Music, but here are five Spotify features that Apple Music doesn’t appear to have.
Proper free tier
Reports suggest that Apple has been putting pressure on record labels for them to scrap ad-funded free tiers in rival streaming services.
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That should tell you something pretty fundamental – Apple Music doesn’t have a free offering that can match Spotify’s. It has that whole Beats 1 music station malarkey, limited skipping, access to Connect (a limited artist-focused social network) and, er, that’s about it.
Now contrast that with Spotify’s free tier, which grants you access to its whole music library through desktop or tablet and playlists and shuffle play on mobile, and it’s not really a contest for most music fans.
From what we can tell at this early, pre-release point, Apple Music won’t have a web player at launch. That means you won’t simply be able to log in and access it from any web connected device.
That’s a bit of a downer, frankly. Part of the appeal of Spotify (and other existing streaming services) is how they’ve opened music access out. Got an online-capable device? Then you’ve got access to 30 million tracks, whether you have an app downloaded or not.
As things stand, Apple Music will require an iOS device with the appropriate app installed or a computer with the latest version of iTunes installed to use it. How very restrictive.
More dedicated apps
In fact, let’s expand that subject of access to include dedicated apps. Spotify has created them for the vast majority of popular online devices.
SEE ALSO: What’s new in iOS 9?
On the smartphone side there’s iOS and Android, of course, but there’s also BlackBerry and Windows Phone. Elsewhere, you can download sharp Spotify apps for your PlayStation, your smart TV, and your TiVo box. It seems to be everywhere.
What about dedicated Apple Music apps? Well, you’ve got iOS, and there will be an Android one along in a couple of months (autumn, apparently). That’s it.
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Spotify works well with Sonos’s popular multi-room speaker set-ups. It’s not flawless – many would like to see Sonos allowing Spotify to use its own Spotify Connect standard to connect direct from the Spotify app. But it’s a lot better than the Apple Music situation.
It’s been confirmed that Apple Music won’t play nicely with Sonos’s internet-connected speakers, and that seems to be largely Apple’s fault.
“Sonos will not have Apple Music on it at launch but we fully expect to support them when they’re ready to focus on the home listening experience,” a Sonos spokesperson told Variety.
In fact, Apple hasn’t mentioned any such connected speaker team-ups for Apple Music. Unless your system is AirPlay-certified, it’s going to be a very isolated, insular service at launch.
Audio quality (maybe)
This one’s the most tenuous of the lot, in truth. Apple has kept schtum on the audio quality of Apple Music’s streams, but it would be highly unusual if it exceeded or deviated from its own iTunes standard. That would likely mean a 256kbps variable bitrate AAC.
Spotify, by contrast, streams at a fixed 320kbps MP3 on its own Premium tier. Technically it could turn out to produce a higher, more consistent streaming standard than Apple Music.
Of course, some would argue that 256kbps AAC files are actually better or as good as those older and less efficient 320kbps MP3s.
The jury’s out on this one, but Apple could do everyone a favour by at least confirming the type and quality of its streaming service.
Will you be sticking with Spotify over Apple Music? Let us know in the comment box below