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Audio Quality: Google Play Music Wins
Digital music is not created equal. Music subscription services offer different levels of audio quality, typically defined by bit rate. On the high-end, there are music subscription services that support 24-bit/96Khz audio. This sounds better than a CD. Although, neither Google nor Apple offer this level of quality, one is better than the other.
Google Play Music streams at 320kbps at its highest quality level. There’s no additional cost to stream high quality music. Apple Music, however, only streams at 256kbps. I notice the difference on my high-end stereo. If you’re just using the stock Apple ear buds, 256kbps is adequate. Google Play Music also offers better control over audio quality. Users can configure sound quality settings for cellular data, downloads and WiFi streaming. Just make sure to check these settings after you update the app. These can sometimes default back to “normal” after an app update. I’m not sure why anyone wouldn’t want the highest quality music over WiFi, but Google Play Music doesn’t default to that.
EQ: Apple Music Wins
Equalizers allow users to shape the overall frequency response of music. If there’s not enough bass, an EQ adjustment can boost it. Apple Music offers a simple EQ with presets like jazz, rock and classical. This really doesn’t make sense at all. There are so many different types of music within these genres. But these vague categorized EQ’s are better than none at all. Google Play Music doesn’t offer an equalizer. In either event, your best bet is to adjust the tone on your stereo or TV. Both Apple and Google need to catch up with Spotify, which offers an excellent graphic EQ. Spotify also offers an impressive cross-fader, which is great for parties.
Device Compatibility: Google Play Music Wins
Apple has come a long way in opening their products to other platforms. They actually offer Apple Music to Android users. Although this is a profit-driven decision, it does indicate some détente in the feud between Google and Apple. Apple Music also works on Windows PCs with iTunes software. Apple TV owners can also take advantage of a native Apple Music tvOS app. Of course, their service works on all modern Apple devices. In fact, they constantly nag users about signing up.
Although Apple’s openness is impressive, Google Play Music simply has greater device compatibility. The Google Play Music web app allows users to enjoy music on almost any device. Apple TV owners can also beam music to Apple TV using AirPlay. Google Play Music also supports Chromecast. Without a doubt, Google Play Music offers far greater compatibility than Apple Music.
Plugins and Extensions: Google Play Music Wins
Apple loves to control the user experience. They tend to limit what third-party developers can do with their products. This doesn’t necessarily have a nefarious motive. It’s not all about market domination. Indeed, it’s harder to become a monopoly when being rigid diminishes the appeal of products. It’s really more about priorities. Keep in mind that Apple Music is the new kid on the block. Apple always starts with a simple product to ensure stability. Although Apple Music is quite buggy, it would have been much worse if they were distracted with extensibility. As it stands, plugins and extensions are not available for Apple Music. iOS 11 introduces MusicKit, which allows third-party developers access to Apple Music (but they can’t extend it). MusicKit isn’t about extensibility either. It’s all about adding Apple Music to third-party apps and games. next page →