Apple Music vs. Spotify

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Gapless Playback/Crossfade: Spotify Wins

Apple Music does not offer control over gapless playback. If you are listening to an album where songs blend into each other (Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon”), you will experience gapless playback. Apple Music doesn’t offer a configurable crossfade feature.

If you are a casual DJ or enjoy crossfade functionality, Spotify has you covered. It offers both gapless playback and a crossfader. Both features are configurable. Unlike Apple Music, you can turn off gapless playback. With the crossfade feature, songs will dovetail and blend into each other, with configurable timing. This is great for parties. Spotify can be your DJ while you enjoy the party. Simply make a playlist and enable the crossfade feature, and Spotify will take care of the rest.

Spotify Crossfade and Gapless Playback

Free Music: Spotify Wins

Contrary to popular belief, Apple Music does offer free music. Users can enjoy radio, including the Beats 1 station, for free. This free music is subsidized by advertising. Users can skip up to 6 songs per hour.

Spotify is the only streaming music service to offer free on-demand music. You can listen to any song or album for free. Listeners are presented with intermittent ads, which subsidize the music.

This feature has garnered much criticism from artists. Spotify’s free service pays artists very little money for each song. According the The Atlantic, however, their free service prevents piracy and preserves revenues for artists and labels.

Spotify’s free music service offers poor quality audio. I started out with the free service, but the bad audio quality and loud, obnoxious ads had me upgrading to the premium service. Nonetheless, those lacking the funds can use their free service, and artists do get compensated. The alternative is piracy, where artists get nothing.

Reliability: Spotify Wins

I ditched Apple Music because it is just too buggy. The defects are severe and notorious. Many users have had their iTunes music libraries re-arranged by Apple Music, with some songs being deleted or replaced. The search results are inconsistent and incomplete. Adding music to playlists or My Music doesn’t always work.

Audio dropouts are, by far, the worst problem with Apple Music. Even if you download music, you may experience long dropouts in audio playback. I experienced these when using AirPlay and they happened far too often. Users report that audio dropouts occur even without AirPlay. The app also closes unexpectedly when performing minor tasks such as deleting songs from the Up Next queue. Apple Music isn’t even beta quality. It is a frustrating experience.

Spotify is rock solid. There are a few user interface quirks, but I don’t have problems finding or playing music. Their iPad app is awful. Users cannot access or edit the queue (the list of currently playing music). This has been a problem for years, and is due to neglect. Spotify’s iPhone app is excellent. Their web-based player is also excellent. I just don’t use the iPad app.

If you are an Apple fan, you may love your iPad and think it is the center of the universe. It’s not. Most third-party developers pay more attention to their iPhone apps, because there are more iPhone users. Twitter and other tech companies offer more features on their iPhone apps. (continue…)

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3 comments

  1. Could not find the button for gapless playback on Spotify. Found the cross fade control, not what I am looking for.

    1. I no longer use Spotify, so I’m not sure what they have changed. I did a quick search and found that the setting should be under Settings > Playback within the Spotify iOS app.

      I really liked Spotify. They have the best app. Unfortunately, their selection didn’t satisfy my needs and they didn’t seem to be expanding their library. I went with Google Play Music, but I may give Spotify another try.

      I am, once again, eligible for a free three month trial of Apple Music. It’s a $30 value, but I have no desire to listen to sub-optimal audio quality and put up with Apple’s ridiculous defects. Apple Music is just another iTunes — hopelessly buggy, ham-fisted and overcomplicated.

      It’s amazing that Apple can make so many great devices (like the new MacBook Pro I am typing on now), excellent operating systems, yet have such horrible apps. It’s like a fine dining restaurant that has amazing food, yet serves “two buck chuck”. The good news is that you can “bring your own bottle” to the Apple ecosystem, and use third-party apps to replace those horrible built in apps. For example, everyone I know uses Google Maps instead of “Apple Maps”.

      Apple Music will be just like iTunes. It will be horribly buggy in perpetuity. Apple will address this by changing up the team, and the next UI experts and product managers will overhaul the app into something even worse. They desperately need to change their engineering process for apps. It is far too rigid. Maybe hire some better developers too… Great developers don’t go to work for Apple. They start their own companies.

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