Throughout 2015 and into 2016, I was evaluating the streaming music services, Spotify, Google Play, Amazon, and Apple. The result of that initial evaluation was that the then new Apple Music plan was the winner. The combination of all my music collection in their cloud, plus the access to their enormous library, and arguably at the time, the best streaming over wifi at home and on cellular data. I ended up keeping Apple, and ditching Spotify, when
Fast forward to today, late 2017. I dropped my Spotify account in early 2016 due to a stretch of unemployment, and grooved on Apple. But lately, I am souring on the Apple ecosystem. Not enough to ditch my Mac and my iPhone, but having experienced iTunes on windows (that is truly a trying experience) I knew I needed an alternative for general use.
Google Play streaming is still shit. Sorry, even using their “app” on my iphone, with a fast wifi network, it glitches and, well, sucks. No other way to describe it.
Apple struggles to stream when there are cellular dropouts. Since I commute by train and bus, there are times when the signal drops to 4G, or disappears altogether. iTunes on my iPhone just borks. Not only does it halt playback, but it doesn’t pick back up when signal returns. Boo.
Amazon’s iPhone app is, frankly amazing. It does enough buffering that the deadzones are not an issue. Their radio stations are pretty good, and the library is decent.
But, the real surprise is the Spotify app. I re-installed it, and used the “free” commercial-supported version for a couple of weeks. Frankly, instead of just tossing in the towel to Apple’s juggernaut, they have greatly improved their experience. The library is quite complete, perhaps not as large as Apple’s, but large enough. But two things have greatly improved. Their radio stations are far more robust. In fact, they are almost as good as Pandora, a high bar indeed. But the cheery on top of the sundae is their apps. The seamless experience between the desktop (mac and windows), the iPhone app, and how you can control any of these devices for playback.
Add to that some elvish magic on the streaming side. In 3 weeks, I have had not one single glitch on playback on my commute. This is epic, as there are plenty of places where the LTE signal drops, or the Xfinity-Wifi will commandeer my connection when it is in range. Regardless, smooth music playback.
One other change is their playlists that had weak-ish curation are now as solid as the initial iteration of the Apple music curation.
Spotify is now subscribed, and I have turned off my Apple music subscription. I am happy.
The real loser here is Pandora. An early player, and great radio stations, but they added on demand streaming way too late, and I suspect that they will either go belly-up, or will be sold to another player. Too bad, as their service had some unique benefits.