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(Pocket-lint) - Apple Music is a single app that combines your music, a streaming service and a worldwide live radio station. Everything lives in one place, so you can stream anything choose or you can let Apple Music choose for you.

Spotify meanwhile, has long been the king of music streaming, with over 100 million paying subscribers and a great feature set. It is the most widely available music streaming platform that offers a huge range of songs at a reasonable price.

We've taken a deep dive and compared Apple Music and Spotify by price, availability, features, and more. Here's everything you need to know about Apple Music vs Spotify.

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Apple Music

Apple Music offers access to millions of songs. It's designed to combine music you have bought - such as from iTunes in the past - with music you've saved from Apple's cloud services in the Apple Music library and with ad-free streaming. The catalogue is extensive, it gives you access to music videos, along with some exclusive content from select artists. It also has the Apple Music 1 radio station, which is a great place to discover new music.

The mobile app has five tabs/features comprising Listen Now, Browse, Radio, Library and Search.

The Listen Now tab serves up a mix of handpicked albums and playlists based on the music you like, while the Browse tab presents the week's newest tracks, videos and playlists selected by Apple Music editors, as well as recommendations by mood and daily hits.

The Radio tab has expanded considerably since launch. Apple now has Apple Music 1, Music Hits and Music Country radio channels, allowing you to tune in any time of the day with regular hosted shows from a number of different presenters. Shane Lowe, Nicole Sky, Ebro Darden, Rebecca Judd and many others.

You also get access to a host of local radio stations. As an example, in the UK you can listen to Capital, Heart UK, Kiss FM, Classic FM, Radio X, Absolute Radio, LBC UK, Kerrang Radio and a lot more, many being served through the built-in TuneIn integration. 

Library is where you'll find all your own music, whether it be songs you've imported from your computer, songs you bought from iTunes or songs you've added from Apple Music's servers. And finally, Search is where you, well, search for any music you want.

As you would expect, Siri works with Apple Music so you can ask her to play today's hits and she will do just that, and with AirPlay 2, you can send music directly from Apple Music to a compatible AirPlay 2 speaker. Once you've started playing a song, lyrics to the song that is currently playing will appear if you swipe up in the Apple Music app. If you're using Apple Music on Android you can play music over Chromecast too. 

If the song you're listening to isn't in your library, you can add it, add it to a playlist, create a station of songs based around the one playing or share it with friends by tapping the three dots in the top right corner.

What devices can you use it on? 

While it was an Apple-only deal when it first launched, Apple Music has since been rolled out to other platforms. 

  • Android (mobile app)
  • iPhone (mobile app)
  • Apple Watch 
  • Mac (desktop app)
  • Windows PC (through the iTunes app)
  • Nest Audio/Google Home
  • Amazon Echo
  • Sonos
  • Smart TV platforms - some new Samsung TVs and Apple TV

How much does Apple Music cost?

It's free to listen to radio without a subscription, but if you want to use any of Apple Music's other services, this is a breakdown of how much the subscription options cost:

  • £9.99/month or $9.99/month, per user
  • £14.99/month or $14.99/month for a family of six
  • £99.99/year or $99.99/year
  • £4.99/month or $4.99/month for students

Of course, if you're an Apple One subcriber there are bundles that include Apple Music as well. If you use some of Apple's other subscription services, that could be a good way to save money. Read more about Apple One here

You can read more about the Apple Music Family plan in our separate feature.

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Spotify

Spotify boasts 345 million users, 155 million of which pay for the service. The rest subscribe to Spotify's free tier, which limits music quality and plays adverts every few songs. The free tier also excludes users from using other features such as being able to use it with Sonos and Spotify Connect.

You can add your purchased music into Spotify using your computer, but you'll have to add them manually. You will be able to listen to tracks offline if you pay for the Premium version, but you can't download songs with the free tier.

Spotify gives you access to millions of tracks and ready-made playlists, along with new music suggestions, podcasts and Spotify radio. It will learn as you listen and through associations, will make recommendations based on your tastes. Spotify also offers Facebook integration so you can follow your friends to see what they're listening to.

Unlike Apple, Spotify's Radio tab is mostly just a generated never-ending playlist of songs from bands similar to who the 'radio station' is based on. Spotify has gone all in on podcasts though offering not just podcasts, but collated song lists with recorded hosted segments in between songs. 

Additionally, Spotify offers Chromecast and Chromecast Audio support allowing anyone to turn any speakers into smart connected players and Spotify Connect allows you to play the service through compatible speakers. Siri also supports Spotify, which it didn't originally.

What devices can you use it on?

Spotify's strength is that it's available on practically any device you could think of, regardless of whether they have a screen or they're a smart speaker like Nest Audio or Amazon Echo. 

  • Android (mobile app)
  • iPhone (mobile app)
  • Windows and Mac (desktop app)
  • Web browser (yep - just head to open.spotify.com)
  • Google Home/Nest Audio devices
  • Amazon Echo speakers and smart screens
  • Sonos
  • Amazon Fire tablets (available in the Amazon Appstore)
  • Many smart TV platforms - LG, Samsung, Roku, Apple TV and Android TV (among others)
  • Garmin watches - some models offer offline Spotify music playback
  • Apple Watch - streaming only, no offline playback

If your TV supports casting/chromecast you'll often find you can also play music through it using Spotify Connect, which allows you to control other devices playing your Spotify account from any Spotify app logged into the same account. It's pretty clever. 

How much does Spotify cost?

As mentioned, there is a free tier of Spotify that features adverts, though not all features are available. For all the Spotify features on offer, here is a breakdown of the subscription costs:

  • £9.99/month or $9.99/month per user for Premium tier
  • £14.99/month or $14.99 for a family of six (have to live at same address)
  • £4.99/month or $4.99/month for students
  • £12.99/month or $12.99/month for 'Duo' (2 premium accounts at the same address)

You can read more about Spotify Premium for Family plan in our separate feature.

Apple Music vs Spotify: Which should you try?

Both Apple Music and Spotify are relatively easy to use, priced similarly, and widely available - and they come with basic controls and plenty of options for finding songs and creating playlists. They even both offer the ability to play music when there's no service or Wi-Fi around.

Spotify comes with a free, ad-supported tier, which Apple Music does not, though Apple Music's Family Plan doesn't require all six users to live at the same address, which Spotify's family plan does. 

Apple Music is also easier to add your own music to and it's a great service if you have Apple devices, while Spotify is available on almost every platform and has a number of discover, playlist and social features.

There are pros and cons to both services but ultimately, we use both and we enjoy the experience on both.

Writing by Maggie Tillman and Elyse Betters. Editing by Cam Bunton. Originally published on 15 August 2016.