Apple Music is our new audiophile pick, thanks to lossless music quality now being included in its base $10-a-month tier, which is half the cost of Tidal’s lossless tier. Apple appears to have met its goal of making its entire catalog of 90 million-plus songs available in lossless format by 2021’s end. Some tracks are also available in Dolby Atmos. Apple Music’s regular, lossy format streams songs at up to 256 Kbps, which isn’t noticeably different from Spotify’s 320 Kbps.
The newest news is the introduction of the Apple Music Voice Plan, which costs $5 a month. There are no annoying ads, but you have to use Siri to control it. There’s no way to view or make playlists, and you can’t save favorite songs, artists, or albums. That also means no musics videos or lyrics. There’s little you can control with the tap of a finger: pause/play, forward, and back. You’re stuck asking Siri to find and play songs one at a time, or you can listen to curated playlists and radio stations. But that’s a lot of restrictions to save only $5 a month.
Apple’s more human-curated discovery options aren’t as fun as Spotify’s. As on Spotify, you can see what your friends are listening to if they’ve turned on social sharing. But unlike Spotify, there’s a tab showing all your favorited songs, artist by artist, so if you want to listen to AC/DC on your drive home, it’ll play all the AC/DC songs you’ve liked across all their albums. You’re limited to 100,000 songs in your library, but there are no limits to how many you can put in each playlist.
I like the iPhone app, and the Android version is OK, but the desktop app is dreadful. Songs occasionally refuse to play, clicking “Add to Library” rarely works, and the Back button is a dysfunctional mess. Adding music to your library is tedious. If you navigate away from the browsing tab, the Back button takes you to the home screen, so you have to navigate all the way back to the album or artist you were looking at—except for when it nonsensically disappears. If you’re considering making the move, check out our guide to switching from Spotify to Apple Music.