As an avid music streaming fan, I have used quite a lot of services in my time. With free trials all around, it is quite easy to get a sense of what suits you best in this market, after all. Today, we will be focusing on Google Play Music vs Apple Music. The two giants have battled it out in many different sections of the market and music is no different.
Music library and content
Though both services offer a vast selection of music, they are quite different in some regards. Apple has tried to create a curated music streaming service with a lot of exclusives. It has gathered the support of quite a few artists too. As such, it regularly features content that you cannot find anywhere else.
Features like Connect also allow users to receive curated music from content creators that they choose to follow. Finally, Apple has its own radio station called Beats 1 which frequently features appearances by major artists.
On the other hand, Google has a much better selection of tracks for one simple reason: anyone who subscribes to All Access can play ad-free songs on YouTube too. In addition to that, you get access to virtually every official music video out there.
Even better, you can play audio in the background, something not normally allowed on the service. For years, YouTube has been one of the most popular ways of listening to music online. Many people are already used to such a service so it’s certainly a strong selling point.
This is one area where there is not really a contest. Google Play Music has virtually no features that allow you to discover new music, aside from radio. In contrast, Apple Music is all about discovery.
Both the mobile app and iTunes are filled with recommendations based on the artists that you follow and the music you play. Furthermore, the Connect feature allows you to listen to new music curated both by Apple and your own favorite artists. Provided, of course, that they actually use the service. Again, this is one aspect of the Google Play Music vs Apple Music debate that boils down to personal preference too.
Though most people will not notice the difference, it’s worth noting that the two services stream music at different bitrates. To be more precise, Apple Music streams at 256kbps while Google Play Music streams at 320kbps.
However, Apple streams AAC whereas Google streams MP3. Instead of going into technical specifics, allow me to say this: you won’t notice the difference and any fights over this are pointless.
Unless you are a student, both services will cost you exactly the same. Basic membership for both is $9.99/£9.99/€9.99 per month whereas a family plan will cost you $14.99/£14.99/€14.99. If you are indeed a student, however, you should know that Apple Music offers a plan at $4.99/£4.99/€4.99 per month. Google Play Music has no offers for students.
The major differences with Google Play Music vs Apple Music come in at the free tier level. With Apple Music, users gain access to a couple of services such as the Beats 1 Radio, a few ad-supported radio stations, and viewing Connect streams (though without having access to exclusive content). Finally, you also have access to your own iCloud Music Library with up to 25,000 tracks.
With Google Play Music, you can also listen to radio for free. They are ad-supported and you can skip up to six tracks per hour. There are quite a few stations available, including top charts, new releases, and stations based on things like activity and mood. Finally, you are free to upload up to 50,000 songs. There is even an extension that lets you upload your iTunes library quickly.
Apps and interface
When it comes to each service’s apps, it all boils down to personal preference. There has been some criticism directed towards Apple Music for the design of the mobile app. However, I do not believe it’s much different than Google Play Music. Both services use more or less the same navigational methods though there are some obvious design differences.
Google’s app, for instance, uses the company’s standard design guidelines which make it bright and flashy. Apple Music, on the other hand, opts for a more elegant approach. Again, both of them have made some weird decisions in regards to navigation. Basically, you might have to swipe or tap more than you might think.
Of course, all of that only refers to the mobile experience. The two services are, in fact, much different on the desktop. Google has opted for a web player whereas Apple uses iTunes. With Google Play Music, you can access music from any device without installing an extra app.
However, you only get a mini player on the desktop which will not sit well with some people. There are some top-notch extensions that act as desktop players for Google Play Music but these require extra steps from the user.
In contrast, Apple Music subscribers can simply gain access to their music through iTunes. There, you will find the exact same features as the mobile client. Whether you like iTunes or not, however, will absolutely define your experience. On Windows, the desktop client is usually quite responsive and the option to have a mini player works wonders for me.
Google Play Music vs Apple Music – the verdict
As I have used both services extensively, my honest opinion is that they are largely the same. My recommendation would be to read up on exclusive features, check out the design of both services, and go from there. For instance, if you wish to discover new, curated music, then Apple Music might be the best bet. In contrast, if you want access to everything that YouTube has to offer, then Google Play Music is where you should be.