Apple Music and Spotify are the two most popular streaming services in the world; most of us already have our favorite. Pricing isn’t the only thing that decides the Apple Music vs. Spotify debate—you could be after better sound quality, recommendations, support for your preferred platforms, and many other things. But which service is superior? It depends on what you’re looking for.
Apple Music vs. Spotify: pricing
If you’re on a really tight budget and just cannot afford to pay for a music streaming service, Spotify’s ad-supported free tier allows you to listen without paying a dime. Apple Music offers a three-month free trial, but once that’s done, you will have to pay. It’s worth noting that no version of Apple Music has ads.
Spotify Premium has four plans, with Premium Individual at $10.99/month, Premium Duo (for two accounts) at US$14.99/month, Premium Family at US$16.99/month (up to six accounts), and Premium Student at US$5.99/month (only for students). Apple Music costs the same as Spotify, without a “Duo” option: $5.99/month for the student plan, US$10.99/month for an individual plan, and US$16.99 for family. The student plan comes with free access to Apple TV+; Spotify’s equivalent plan lets you access Hulu’s ad-supported plans.
If you’re in the Apple ecosystem, you can get the Apple One bundle for a great discount. Apple One Individual costs US$19.95/month for four services—Apple Arcade, Apple Music, Apple TV+, and iCloud (50GB). The Apple One Family plan offers all of this with 200GB iCloud storage for US$25.95/month for up to six people. The Premier plan includes all of the above for six people, plus Apple News and Apple Fitness, for US$37.95/month.
Apple Music offers better sound quality
If you’re after the best sound quality, then Apple Music is a better option than Spotify. Apple Music allows you to listen to lossless audio files at no extra charge. With the right kind of wired audio equipment, you’ll be able to hear the difference in sound quality. Spotify doesn’t allow you to play lossless audio files yet.
To be clear, the sound quality in both services is quite good—most people will not feel like they’re listening to inferior audio. Especially if you use a pair of cheap earbuds, there’s no point in trying to pick one service over another based on sound quality. This matters only for those who have high-end audio gear and want to use Apple Music to stream songs.
Apple Music has another advantage in Spatial Audio, which is a form of virtual surround sound and creates a more immersive listening experience.
Both services have a vast music library
Spotify and Apple Music both have over 100 million songs for you to enjoy. Most people will find everything they need on either service, but some niche artists or genres may be better represented on either of these services. You should take advantage of the free tier on Spotify or the free trial on Apple Music to make sure your favorite artists are available.
Playlists and recommendations
Music streaming services live and die by their recommendation algorithms. Although Spotify started out with a huge advantage in this area, Apple Music has been slowly catching up. At the moment, Spotify’s algorithm is still better at recommending music, but Apple Music’s got lots of excellent human-curated playlists that may appeal more to some people. This is a highly subjective debate that swings one way or another based on the genres you prefer. That’s why it’s best if you give these services a shot and see if the playlists are recommendations work for you.
UI and app experience
Apple Music’s apps are great on Apple platforms, but they’re mediocre on other devices. The service has a web player, an Android app, a Windows app, and is available on other platforms too, but its experience remains sub-par on most of those. If you’re someone who’s locked in to the Apple ecosystem, you’ll be pleased with Apple Music, but if you’re more of a cross-platform person, Spotify is the better option.
There are a few interesting features that could help you gravitate towards Apple Music or Spotify. Apple Music Sing lets you view song lyrics in a karaoke-style UI and syncs it with the currently playing song. This makes it easy to follow lyrics, especially on a large-screen device such as an Apple TV. The experience is far better than Spotify’s synced lyrics feature.
On the other hand, Spotify Connect makes it a lot easier to control music playback on other devices. Spotify also supports collaborative playlists—a feature that’s still in beta on Apple Music. For collaboration, Spotify Blend automatically curates a playlist based on yours and your friends’ tastes and Spotify Jam makes it really easy to create party playlists.
Spotify includes podcasts and audiobooks in its service, which has been a polarizing addition. Some people want their music app to have just that, while others don’t mind listening to other forms of audio in Spotify. However, almost everyone is annoyed by the fact that Spotify plays ads in podcasts, even for premium subscribers. The service offers a few hours of audiobook listening for free, and charges an additional sum if you want more.
Sharing and social media
As hard as Apple Music is trying to catch up, Spotify is the service with the better sharing and social media options. Its year-end roundup—Spotify Wrapped—is simple to post to social media, and you also have neat options to share any song to Instagram Stories. Apple Music Replay’s sharing options are rather limited and you still have to open the site on a browser to even scroll through your year-end roundup. While you can share song lyrics to Instagram via Apple Music, in general Apple’s social media game isn’t anywhere near Spotify’s.
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