Apple Music has been out for a while now, so we've taken the time to consider the pros and cons of the new music provider. But, before we begin - a disclaimer - I'm a huge Apple nerd, but I'll try to keep this blog impartial.
If you're reading this, you'll be in one of three categories:
1. You own all of your music on vinyl and feel like MP3s are "ruining everything".
2. You're a huge Apple fan and will buy anything they make.
3. You've been thinking about streaming your music as that's "what the kids are doing these days".
As the resident Apple fanatic at Resolve, I've been using Apple Music since it launched and whilst it does a lot right, there's also a few not-so-goods to discuss. Spotify has been my go-to streaming platform for the last five years and is Apple Music's biggest rival, so I am going to spend most of this article comparing the two.
The Good Bits
1. One of the nice elements of Apple Music is that it asks you to teach it about what you like during the initial start-up process. Immediately, you will be presented with a curated list of music you might like based on what you've already liked. If you're taking the dive into streaming music the vast amount available might be a little daunting at first, having a helpful list of potential places to get started might make that process a little easier.
2. Music curation on Apple Music is arguably the big ticket feature. Apple makes a big deal out of the fact that the playlists are put together by actual humans and not soulless algorithms. You can take this with a pinch of salt but undeniably, the quality of playlists has been higher than those I've found on Spotify.
3. The UI is also a big winner here. One of the major problems with Spotify is that when your personal library reaches into the thousands of tracks, managing that music became difficult. Whole albums disappear into dusty corners of a datacentre somewhere because browsing your own collection was (and is still) so unwieldy.
4. Music quality is also higher and more consistent on Apple Music. I shelled out for Spotify Premium primarily because I wanted higher quality streaming and was annoyed to find out half the songs still don't have a higher quality variant available to Premium subscribers.
5. Taylor Swift.
The Bad Bits
1. It's slow, the desktop client is locked into iTunes (which whilst significantly improved, still isn't great on Windows) and there's no web client to listen through a web browser for those that don't want to install iTunes on their desktops. Music playback can occasionally pause for buffering between songs on slower connections, which I suppose is the price to pay for higher quality streaming. It's okay over 4G and Fibre broadband but you'll start to notice if you pass into a 3G area or if everyone at work is using all the bandwidth watching YouTube videos.
2. There's no "shuffle all" button on the mobile app, I mean come on.
3. If you've already bought part of an album previously and want the rest in your collection, Apple Music isn't clever enough to know that you already have some of the songs purchased with your Apple ID, so you end up with a lot of duplicates. You could get around this by adding songs one by one, but it's time consuming.
4. You're stuck with iDevices for the time being. If you want Apple Music on your phone, Android users are out in the cold until autumn and there's no news of a Windows Phone/Blackberry app, ever.
5. There's no student price tier. I may not be a student anymore but the Spotify student tier was awesome.
This isn't a comprehensive review of everything Apple Music has to offer, but it's free to try right now so there's no harm in giving it a go if you're not that enamoured with Spotify or you've never tried a streaming service before. My initial impressions are strong and I think a lot of the bad bits are things that will improve as the service matures. I'll be paying my £9.99 once the trial expires in a few months but then again, I am in category two.