Apple dominated the music industry with the iPod then, and AirPods today, but fell short when it came to a music streaming service. While iTunes was a flawed, mediocre product at best, Spotify set the bar high. After quite a wait, Apple came up with Apple Music as a response. And if you ever wondered which is the better one, here’s an ultimate Apple Music vs. Spotify comparison.
Imagine Apple trying hard to keep up with another product – and that says everything you need to know about Spotify. The music app from the Swedish giants was a game changer and continues to be one. This is reflected by the 188 million users who have a premium subscription to Spotify, in comparison to the 88 million active users on Apple Music.
But with recent advancements in Spatial Audio and a far better mobile application, Apple has been making good strides and offers a few advantages over Spotify. But no spoilers for now. Let’s see how both apps go head to head with each other.
Apple Music vs. Spotify: Music Library
Apple Music claims to have a library of over 90 million plus songs, whereas Spotify claims to have over 80 million plus songs. However, the difference in the numbers isn’t conclusive, as, in our experience, we were able to find results for any song we searched on both apps.
The ones that were not available on Spotify, were not available on Apple Music too and vice versa – which is probably the music that is unauthorized for streaming.
We can confidently say that either of these apps will suffice your music taste. Moreover, we are huge fans of indie, alternative, and not-so-mainstream music, so we had no trouble finding music across all genres.
But here’s where Spotify has a huge advantage – Podcasts. While we used Apple Music, one feature we missed was the ability to listen to podcasts on the same app. That’s the main reason we kept coming back to Spotify.
Moreover, Spotify comes with all the popular podcast titles, and it seems to be the go-to platform for creators to make their podcasts exclusive – like the Joe Rogan Experience, and the Michelle Obama Podcast.
Winner: It’s a tie, but Spotify wins the tiebreaker
Apple Music vs. Spotify: Recommendations
The biggest advantage of an online streaming service is that you can easily discover new music without manually searching for it. Both Apple Music and Spotify have separate sections to discover new and trending music, but we feel Spotify does a better job in this category.
While both apps strive to recommend new music based on your listening history and music taste, we felt the algorithm in Spotify worked better for us and compelled us to add more new songs to our playlist. Besides, Spotify’s ‘Discover Weekly’ playlist, refreshed every Monday, is an impressive way to discover music. The ease of finding new albums and songs is also better on Spotify.
Apple Music’s main tool to discover new music is called ‘Just Ask Siri’ and it has music according to different themes and environments. There’s also the Radio Feature, good for discovering new music based on different genres and themes (more on that later). They do their job, but most songs we came across did not need any ‘discovery’ as they were already popular enough.
Apple Music vs. Spotify: User Interface
Both Apple Music and Spotify are visually pleasing and offer excellent aesthetics. But the main difference between Apple Music and Spotify’s user interface is that Spotify just offers dark mode, whereas Apple Music offers both dark and light mode options. However, aesthetics is not all, as good design involves more functionality than just visuals. This is where Spotify does a great job.
Obviously, Spotify has served a larger user base over the years, so they have a better understanding of what people need in a music app. That does not mean Apple falls short, but navigating across the app is easier on Spotify.
Whether it is searching for new music, or navigating across the library – we felt more comfortable with Spotify. One of the things that irked us is that Apple Music does not have an Add to Queue option. Instead, it has ‘Play Next’ or ‘Play Last’ – which confused us all the time.
And until the recent update of Apple Music, released while writing this Apple Music vs. Spotify comparison, you couldn’t sort songs according to the title or date added within a playlist. This is something that never made sense. However, we can cut short the rant because Apple has released an update that allows you to do so.
The bottom line is that both have a visually appealing interface but Spotify beats Apple Music in ease of usage – be it for managing the queue, searching for music, or creating and accessing playlists.
Winner: Spotify, but light mode fans will beg to differ.
Apple Music vs. Spotify: Sound Quality
Apple Music has been focusing on building its own identity than just being a plain competitor to Spotify, and the biggest evidence is Spatial Audio. Coupled with a Hi-Res Lossless playback, the immersive music experience is second to none. Spatial Audio meant listening to music, which felt as if arriving from many directions, creating an immersive experience.
We have been using both apps since the last year, as casual music listeners. We’re no audiophiles, and we don’t wanna throw terms that need an intro class in sound engineering. So, in the simplest words, we were able to listen to many more notes and instruments in the background, which seemed hidden on Spotify. The effect of heavier instruments like drums, or bass was felt strongly in Apple Music.
Additionally, you also get Dolby Atmos on Apple Music. This also creates surround sound on supported listening devices. However, Spotify is not too bad either. It is still good and will suffice for most listeners. In conclusion, once you listen to the sound quality of Apple Music, there is no going back.
Winner: Apple Music
Apple Music vs. Spotify: Platform Availability
Apple Music and Spotify are available on iOS, Android, Windows, and Mac.
Spotify has to be externally installed on all platforms, along with web apps for Mac and Windows. Here are the download links for the same.
Unlike iOS and Android, Apple Music is available as a default app on Mac. On Windows, you have to use iTunes for Apple Music and it is not an app that has gone well with users over the years. But to save the day, you have an Apple Music web app. Here are the download links for the same.
Apple Music vs. Spotify: Sharing Features
Apple’s SharePlay allows you to connect to your friends as you listen to the same music, provided they have a subscription too. Spotify also has a similar group listening session feature – but all your friends in the group need to have a premium subscription. Further, sharing music is easy on both apps as you can send links to songs using different social media platforms with a click.
Winner: Spotify for supporting cross-platform group listening.
Apple Music vs. Spotify: Playback Features
What we like about Spotify is the ability to quickly switch between the devices when you are playing music. You can log in to multiple devices using the same account and easily switch music playback from one device to another.
On the other hand, Apple has a similar feature called AirPlay, but it only lets you stream music to devices that support the AirPlay feature. And these devices do not include Android phones or Windows PCs. This is where Spotify wins, as it supports switching playback irrespective of the platform the app is operating on.
Apple Music vs. Spotify: Additional Features
Apart from all the standard set of features, some unique features on both the apps not only caught our attention but also made us use them over a period.
For instance, on Apple Music, the radio feature dubbed ‘Apple Music 1’ is something that we used a lot. Based on the genre, you could easily listen to music curated by the show without having to spend time choosing what playlist to play.
Further, the radio on Apple Music is more authentic than the one on Spotify – as it is an actual online radio station that you can listen to, and does not allow you to skip tracks or even rewind or forward. The one on Spotify is just a playlist called ‘Radio’ and we wonder what the thought process behind that was.
Apple Music also has artist interviews, which gives you a better insight into the music that you listen to. Needless to say, we watched a few which were interesting and got us hooked.
On the other hand, we love the background video that plays on Spotify instead of the album art. It is a good change from staring at the static album art. Another feature that we like is called the Spotify Blend.
If you are friends with someone on Spotify, you can generate a playlist filled with both of your favorite songs, and this is called a ‘Blend’ between the two of you. This is a great way to share your music taste, and it can also be a great conversation starter.
Winner: Apple Music for Radio
Those were all the bells and whistles that Spotify and Apple Music have to offer. While these are great apps to install, how much do they cost? Or do they have a free plan? To answer your questions, read the next few sections related to Apple Music vs. Spotify prices and plans.
Apple Music vs. Spotify: Free Plan
Apple Music does not offer a free plan, and you need to pay for it. However, there is a trial period and we will get to it in the next section.
Spotify on the other hand offers a free version, which comes with ads. In the free version, you miss out on offline listening and the best quality. Besides, the audio quality is restricted to ‘Normal’ (96Kbps). However, you do not have any content restrictions and can listen to all songs and podcasts.
Once you purchase Spotify Premium, you can effectively get rid of ads.
Apple Music vs. Spotify: Price and Plans
Here’s how Apple Music and Spotify compare in pricing. Do note that for your first subscription, both Apple Music and Spotify offer a free, three-month trial period. Besides, both Apple Music and Spotify allow you to download content for offline use with the premium versions.
|Duo||$12.99 per month, 2 accounts||–|
|Family Plan||$15.99 per month, 6 accounts||$14.99 per month, 6 accounts|
|Student Pricing||$4.99 per month||$5.99 per month|
The entire reason why one needs to read a detailed comparison of Apple Music vs. Spotify is because of how closely both are priced. Usually, the price difference is a decisive factor for most buyers; but in this case, you need to know more.
Given how much we use music streaming apps, we believe both of them offer great value unless you want to subscribe for 2 accounts. That’s where Spotify leads as it offers a competitively priced Duo plan, which is missing in Apple Music.
Winner: Tie; Spotify wins the tiebreaker with its Duo plan.
Main Differences Between Spotify and Apple Music
If there is anything that we have learned in this detailed comparison, it is that both apps are quite good to listen to music. However, both of them excel at a few things and have their shortcoming at the same time. Therefore, here’s a pro and con list of notable differences that summarizes our experience.
What We Liked and Disliked About Apple Music
- Spatial Audio and Lossless Hi-Res audio provide the best audio experience.
- We love the radio feature.
- Reasonable pricing, given the audio quality.
- SharePlay is a great feature to use with fellow Apple users.
- User experience needs a lot of refinement.
- The android app is quite sluggish and buggy.
- Hi-Res audio consumes more internet.
- Lacks a free version.
What We Liked and Disliked About Spotify
- Excellent user experience.
- Spotify offers podcasts.
- A free version is available with ads.
- Quickly switch to a different playback device.
- Good music recommendation algorithm.
- Audio quality is better on Apple Music.
- Misses out on the radio feature.
- Cannot limit cache on mobile devices, unlike Apple Music.
- Light mode is unavailable.
Apple Music vs. Spotify: Time to Make Your Choice
Our Choice: Any product preference is subjective, and it comes after using it for some time. We used both of these apps for a year, but when it came to renewing the subscription – we opted for Spotify.
Sure the music quality is in its own league on Apple Music, but the user experience, availability of podcasts, and other playback features made us lean towards Spotify. However, if audio quality is your major preference, and other features don’t matter a lot, we would recommend Apple Music by all means.
That is all we had to say about the two best music services out there. We hope this answered all of your doubts regarding Apple Music vs. Spotify. We’re eager to see how these services will be updated regularly to enhance the experience.
Last updated on 17 January, 2023
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