Stream Wars

It’s 2016, and the future of music may very well be in the hands of application softwares allowing its user to stream music on their mobile device at their own convenience. Such devices vary from tablets, televisions, video game consoles and more. One device that surpasses all the other mobile devices is the cellular phone. The cell phone has become an essential and critical tool in our everyday lives. All across the world people have divided themselves into teams based on the two leading smartphone devices, iPhones and Androids, because of their iOS and Android operating systems. These operating systems are used the most because both platforms come packaged with a robust and dynamic app for streaming music, Apple Music and Google Play Music.

It’s obvious what app belongs to which device, but as of December 2015 when Apple Music hit the Google Play Store, both apps became available on both iOS and Android operating systems. I am a very vocal fan of Google and was on the Google wave – I use Gmail and Inbox – naturally, my operating system of choice is Android. My current phone is the Samsung GS6, I personally don’t like Samsung, but that’s another story. Prior to my current cellular device, I had the Nexus 4. Since 2012, I have been using Google Play Music, and it has been great!

I was able to carry majority of my music library wherever I go without taking up any space on my phone. In 2013, I had the ability to stream and discover new music on the go and on the fly! At the time, Google Play Music was available on iOS, albeit, with some limited features. So when Apple Music came into the scene, my first reaction was that Apple is yet again, playing the catch up role that they always do. Old technology with fancy branding and celebrity sponsorship. Finally, Apple users would be able to enjoy the same convenience in music streaming that I and many other Android users had for the past 2 years.

Then all of a sudden, Apple launched the Apple Music app for Android. I was shocked.  Apple had never done something like this before – they are very “stingy” when it comes to their applications and softwares – but the more I thought about it, the more it made sense. They wanted to give Android users a head-to-head comparison, and a small nugget of inception to switch sides. But the question still remains…which app is better?

When it comes to Apple Music, you get the same full experience of the app when used on Android or iPhone. This includes streaming albums and radio, the ability to build and sync your music library between devices, and the ability to save songs directly to your device for offline playback. This was most important to me because it was perfect for those train rides. Playlists seem truly curated – getting music to play barely ever seemed more than just one click away – even never just two. Best of all, whenever I opened the app, the For You page had excellent choices for a quick and painless playlist.


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Apple Music definitely had its flaws – one of the most frustrating thing about the app on Android, are the bugs. Playlists often failed to load and the app would often freeze where the music continued to play, but it wouldn’t allow you to change songs. Worst of all, if you are not an avid Mac or iTunes user, then you’re sure to get pretty annoyed by the layout of the application.

In comparison, Google Play Music has all of the same options as Apple Music at your fingertips. It delivers a personalized and curated playlist for streaming, and it allows you to save songs for offline listening. Since the platforms are practically identical, we still cannot really determine which app is better other than by its bugs.

For Google Play Music, my favorite feature is its ability to cache, or store, songs that are upcoming in my stream. Here’s an example, if I’m in the middle of streaming while commuting on the Q train, my music will continue to go uninterrupted even if I lose Wifi or mobile data. Also, Google Play Music doesn’t have the same bug issues Apple Music has, but that doesn’t mean it’s stands out on top.

With Apple Music, the thing I see that excels greatly in, is its user experience. For instance, songs load almost instantly after clicking it as opposed to Google Play Music, which is much slower.  I also mentioned before the playlist, whether it’s suggested or searched, they are a much better collection of music with titles that reflect the music. Google Play Music’s playlists collection is pale in comparison. It often takes up to 3 or 4 clicks to simply get the tunes rolling – but now it would be good to note that Google’s playlists work more like an updating stream rather than a playlist with a specific set of songs.

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All in all, both apps are truly amazing. Whether you have the new Google Nexus 6P (I need that) or planning to get the iPhone 7 Plus, you will enjoy your music listening and streaming experience. To me, it seems that Apple made the streaming app for music enthusiasts who already use iTunes, whereas Google made the experience to be organized, consistent and practical, no matter what your previous app preference was. Though I may probably continue to use Google Play Music as my daily music driver, I have to rate Apple Music higher with 4 stars and Google Play Music with 3.5 out of 5. In my honest opinion both apps are still neck and neck, but only time, and updates, will tell the tale of these music app giants.

George “MF” Davidson, Staff Writer (Technology & Music)

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