I joined Spotify during my sophomore year of college. For a while, I enjoyed the playlists and didn’t mind listening to the ads every now and again. But once I was back home in New York City for the summer and away from the plentiful campus WiFi, I found myself burning through data.
After a few weeks of warnings from Verizon that I was approaching my data limit, I decided to take the plunge and become a Spotify Premium member. For more than two years, I enjoyed my ad-free listening experience, and I made the most of my Premium membership.
But everything changed a month ago when I decided to de-link my Facebook account from my Spotify. I thought it would be a simple process, but no matter how hard I looked, I couldn’t find any way to do it. Eventually, I reached out to the Spotify support team, and they informed me that since I had created my account using my Facebook login, it was impossible to de-link the two.
The only solution, I was told, was to delete my Spotify account and create a new one. So that’s what I did. They gave me credit for a free month of Premium to make up for the time that was left on my other account, and transferred all my songs and playlists over for me.
For one reason or another, once my month of Premium was almost up and Spotify started asking me for my credit card information, I got cold feet. After two years with one streaming service, it was time to see what else was out there.
This week, I signed up for Spotify’s biggest rival: Apple Music. Here are my first impressions.
When Apple Music first came out in summer 2015, I did the three-month free trial but I ditched the app after the first day because it was just a headache to use. However, the introduction of iOS 10 brought about a redesign of Apple Music, and I was ready to give it another shot.
Though the interface is now much better than I remembered, there is still a learning curve. Unlike Spotify, which brings you to its home screen full of playlists and albums when you open the app, Apple Music starts you at your library. In my case, my library was empty, and I had to figure out how to fill it.
Finding a song I liked was easy enough; Apple Music's search feature brought me the results I wanted whether I searched for songs, albums, or artists. But confusion set in when I tried to save a song to my device for offline listening.
I first tried to save the songs by clicking the '+' icon, but I got a pop-up notification that told me I needed to set up my iCloud library in order to add the song. I don't normally use iCloud, so I declined the notification, and kept looking for an option to save songs for offline play. I eventually gave up and contacted Apple support, which proceeded to tell me that I had no option but to enable iCloud. Once I did, however, I was filling my library in no time.
I have yet to spend enough time in the app to judge how good it is at recommending new music -- Spotify's Discover Weekly playlist sets the bar very high -- but first looks are promising, and the curated playlists definitely make me want to listen.
The very first thing I noticed when I opened Apple Music was that everything is huge now. The album covers, photos, and video stills take up huge chunks of the screen, and the font is enormous.
Seriously, it's really, really big. It's large to the point where it just seems like some higher-up at Apple approached Apple Music's designers and told them to design the app as if their core audience was older people who bring reading glasses to restaurants so they can see the menu.
Don't get me wrong, everything looks really nice. You can say a lot about Apple and their products, but you can't say that they aren't beautiful. Compared to Spotify's relatively bare-bones design, Apple Music is a joy to scroll through and explore.
But jeez everything is big.
Apple Music is a flawed app. With the Apple pedigree and competition from Spotify, I was expecting a more positive experience from my first few days. But unlike my first go-around with this streaming service, I haven't gotten the urge to throw my hands up and go back to the familiar.
The curated playlists and recommended music sections are visually appealing and make me curious to jump in and listen. And the promise of Apple Music exclusives, if only for a few weeks at a time, has also caught my interest.
Despite the fact that it isn't as user-friendly as other music apps, I want to give it a chance to win me over. I'm going to spend more time with it over the coming weeks. Time will tell if it can make a convert out of me.