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Google Play Music is nothing special, but a music app should have a fairly obvious user interface. I just found it easier to use and navigate Google Play Music. I wasn’t constantly thinking “how do I do this?”. You tap on a “…” button and see a menu with every operation available for an object. They have a centralized settings. They finally added tabs to get back to the home screen without pressing the back button multiple times. Google Play Music offers a lucid user interface.
Overall: Google Play Music Wins
Google Play Music is the best music subscription service available to Apple device users. This may surprise some people and even upset some fanboys. The reality is, Apple just doesn’t create excellent apps and services. Just as iTunes is maligned and detested by legions, Apple Music is an extension of this same rotten content ecosystem. It’s buggy and convoluted. Audio quality is mediocre and plagued with dropouts. This is no reflection on the iPhone, iOS, Mac or macOS. Apple Music was created by a specific product team at Apple (summer interns?). They clearly didn’t put their best and brightest engineers on this project. It was late to market and inferior from day one. After months of use, it didn’t get better. It actually got worse. My experience with Apple Music was frustrating. I wanted to throw my iPad out of the window every time the audio cut out for 30 seconds or more. Beyond the free trial, I don’t recommend actually paying for Apple Music. I can only recommend it to people who really love Beats 1 and are so blinded by love for Apple that they’re willing to forgive the egregious defects.
Google Play Music isn’t perfect. In fact, if Spotify offered 40 million songs, I would switch back in a heartbeat. I’m sticking with Google Play Music because it’s good enough. With 40 million songs, I have access to pretty much every album I want. They keep adding music and I feel confident that even the die-hard holdouts will acquiesce and accept music subscription services. The app is easy-to-use and their data center operations are solid.
If Apple Music improved its audio quality, I would be willing to give it a second chance. With native support for the fourth generation Apple TV, I can forgo the frustrations of AirPlay dropouts. Perhaps the HomePod is a signal that Apple actually cares about audio quality in their consumer products. Let’s face it, EarPods and AirPods don’t offer great sound quality. 256 kbps AAC audio is not for audiophiles. In this day and age, most of us have high-speed Internet connections and can store hundreds of GB worth of data on our devices. Yet Apple still stubbornly adheres to 256 kbps audio quality, which is well below the industry standard. I’m not the only one who can hear the difference. Major online tech websites have run listening tests and found that Apple Music simply doesn’t sound as good as the competition. This is my main bone of contention. If I’m going to spend almost $120 a year on music, it has to sound good. Apple Music just doesn’t deliver. With its mediocre audio quality and 30+ second dropouts, Apple device owners should look elsewhere for a music subscription service. I highly recommend Google Play Music, but if you prefer mainstream music, Spotify is also an excellent alternative.