Apple has finally unveiled a Beats Music-infused Music app.
The new and improved app is set to take on Spotify, one of the leading music streaming services available. But what makes the two apps different? And which paid service is worth your money? In an attempt to help you find out, we've pitted them against each other and detailed everything you need to know.
Keep in mind this is early-days territory still. Apple Music has yet to launch for consumers, so there's only a little bit of information to go on at the moment. Nonetheless, there's plenty to brush up on.
What does each service feature?
Apple Music is a single app that combines a streaming music service with a worldwide live radio station and more. It puts the iTunes catalogue at your fingertips, as well as your own ripped CDs. They all live in one place, so you can stream any song, album, or playlist you choose. You can even let Apple Music choose for you.
The Music app has five tabs: For You, New, Radio, Connect, and My Music. The new “For You” section of Apple Music serves up a new mix of albums, new releases, and playlists. Apple hired music experts to create the perfect playlists based on your preferences, and they become better curators the more you listen.
The "New" tab shows new albums and artists, as well as top charts. When using the Apple Music app, you'll see all content displayed in two panes called the "All" tab (where the artist's entire library on iTunes is available) and "My Music" tab (where locally stored and owned content is displayed). You can also make and share your own curated playlists.
Siri has also been programmed to work with Apple Music. So, ask Siri to play the best songs from 1994... and she will do just that. If you want to discover more music, Apple Music has a 24-hour live radio station called Beats One that you can access from the app. It's led by famous DJs, including Zane Lowe, Ebro Darden, and Julie Adenuga.
Although Beats One is free, Apple Music's Radio tab, which gives you expertly-created stations created by radio DJs, requires a membership in order for you to skip as many songs as you like. Another feature in Apple Music is called Beats Connect. It lets unsigned artists connect with fans and allows them to upload whatever they want.
According to Apple: "Through Connect, artists can share lyrics, backstage photos, videos or even release their latest song directly to fans directly from their iPhone. Fans can comment on or like anything an artist has posted, and share it via Messages, Facebook, Twitter and email. And when you comment, the artist can respond directly to you".
We've fully explained all of Spotify's features here, but here's what you need to know in a nutshell: Spotify has more than 20 million users and content deals with Sony, EMI, Warner and Universal - all since launching in 2008. Spotify comes in paid-for and ad-supported versions - both of which are available in app form.
Spotify's Premium tier gives you access to everything but doesn't force adverts - whether you're listening on desktop, mobile, or tablet. Premium users can play any catalogue song they want (on demand), as well as find and hear playlists, discover new music, create and edit playlists, and share music and playlists.
Premium users can also listen to tunes picked by Spotify’s Radio feature, skip any track, listen offline, hear HD music, and use the Spotify app on their mobile device as a computer remote. Spotify also learns as you listen, and through associations, can make recommendations based on your tastes.
Premium users further have access to Spotify Connect, which lets you control music playback between your devices (as long as they are on the same Wi-Fi network). And finally, Spotify recently rolled out a new phone app, and it included a Now start page, which aims to serve up the right music at the right time of day.
Another new feature, called Spotify Running, recommends tunes based on your listening history and then tunes it to your tempo. As part of the update, Spotify also announced it would begin offering video clips, audio shows, and original programming to all users. You can read more about that update here.
Which has the bigger catalogue?
Apple's iTunes has over 30 million songs, but through the new Connect feature in Apple Music, you'll also be able to access artist-uploaded content that isn't in iTunes yet. It's kind of like a a new and social version of SoundCloud.
It's not clear yet what kind of sound quality you can expect and if it'll be any better than what iTunes currently offers, but Spotify reportedly has a catalogue filled with more than 30 million songs, and they stream at 320Kbps. It also has video clips, audio shows, and original programming.
How much do they cost?
Apple Music costs $9.99 a month per user. Apple has also made it possible for an entire family of six to have one account subscription for $14.99 a month. You can also get the first three months free via a trial.
Spotify has a free tier that includes adverts and prevents users from accessing key features, while the full-fledged premium tier costs $9.99. There's also a two-month free trial and something called Spotify Family (lets you invite up to four family members, and each additional user gets up to 50 per cent off Spotify Premium).
Which one is more widely available?
Apple Music will be available for iOS, Mac, and PC devices in over 100 countries from 30 June. An Android version is also coming this autumn. Spotify is already globally available for Android devices, as well as iOS, Mac, PC, and the web.
Which do you need?
It's hard to say. Apple Music isn't relevant to Android users until the app releases this autumn.
Until then, Android users will want to stick with Spotify. After this autumn however, things are going to get interesting. Apple will have had several months to fix any issues and bulk up the Connect feature. Spotify will have also had some time to add more video clips, audio shows, and original programming.
It's therefore too soon to call, though we're just happy to have more and exciting streaming options to choose from.