A few months back, I made a major life change: I’ve been using Apple Music for about two years, but decided to make the switch to Spotify’s premium service.
It wasn’t because I found an issue with Apple Music, but because I bought a few Google Home Mini devices for my new apartment. Apple Music doesn’t work on any Google Home, or the Amazon Echo, for that matter – you need an Apple HomePod if you want an Apple Music-compatible smart speaker.
Google’s smart speakers do allow you to play music from Apple Music, just as you would with a Bluetooth speaker – by pairing your phone and controlling everything on there.
But if I was going to spend the money on Google Home Minis – which cost $US50 apiece or $US78 if you buy two, which I did – I wanted to get my money’s worth. Plus, I’ve been using a Google Home Max at my house for the last six months. Altogether, I currently have a nice little Google Home ecosystem, and I wanted to get the most out of it.
I naively thought that making the switch would be an easy one. Both apps offer access to a massive music library, provide personalised, curated playlists, and allow you to do things like listen to podcasts and radio. While Apple Music has gotten a few artist exclusives in the past, both apps currently offer most of the music I want to listen to.
Now, two months into using Spotify, I’m longing for my old life as an Apple Music user.
My issues with Spotify center around my personal preferences, and they’re extremely specific to the way I use the app. Still, I can’t help feeling like Spotify just isn’t the app for me.
Here are five reasons why:
First and foremost, I’m not really a “dark mode” kind of gal.
Whenever possible, I like to leave my apps set to light mode – somehow, my brain seems to comprehend a white background better than a black one. Whenever I look at content on a black background, it’s confusing for me and I have trouble knowing what to look at first.
But Spotify is only available with a black background, and that has been the No. 1 issue for me. Of course, the reverse could be true for people who prefer a dark mode, since Apple Music is only available with a white background.
In general, I find that the interface is busier and more difficult to navigate than Apple Music.
Maybe it’s Apple Music’s big, bubbly headings and extra-large font, but I find the app more appealing and easier to use than Spotify.
Don’t get me wrong, Spotify is a beautiful app, particularly when it comes to the playlist covers. But it also feels cluttered and over-designed to my eye – the font is too small, and there are too many icons for my taste.
When I was an Apple Music user, I felt as though I most often just scrolled up and down, or Force Touched on a song or album to pull up a menu of options. On Spotify, there are so many carousels and menus that I feel like I’m constantly swiping vertically, then horizontally, then vertically again every time I navigate the app.
Of course, this is all about personal preference, and I’ve realised that I prefer a cleaner, more minimalist app.
My downloaded music isn’t all stored in one place on Spotify.
I don’t have an unlimited data plan, and I spend a good portion of my life underground on the subway. Therefore, being able to download music is very important to me – as is being able to easily access that downloaded music.
While Apple Music makes that incredibly easy, Spotify…doesn’t. Apple Music has a separate tab that houses all of the music you already have downloaded, while Spotify just mixes it in with the rest of your library.
Not only that, but the app places all this other stuff ahead of your list of music, like tabs for podcasts (I don’t listen to them) and videos (I don’t watch them on Spotify). Despite all those tabs, Spotify strangely doesn’t have a “Downloaded Music” tab, and that’s all I really want.
I should point out that if you click on the “Songs” tab, you should see your downloaded songs there. However, they’re not organised by album like on Apple Music, they’re just displayed in a long list. And for me, a few non-downloaded songs snuck in there as well.
This is more of a critique of Google Home, but every time someone asks the device to play something, it ends up in my Spotify library.
I recently had a party at my house, and it wreaked havoc on my Spotify account.
Any time someone requested that the Google Home play a song, artist, or album, it saved it to my Spotify library. Days later, my library was full of music I’d never heard of or wasn’t interested in hearing ever again.
(I’m looking at you, whoever asked Google to play three different country music radio stations.)
This isn’t necessarily a failing of Spotify, but it certainly isn’t a great feature. While I was able to figure out how to remove all that music from my library, I haven’t figured out how to prevent it in the future.
And since allowing other people to use my Google Home to request music, I’ve noticed that the random music requested by my party guests is now being used to fuel Spotify’s omnipresent recommendation engine. A much-lauded feature of Spotify is those tailor-made playlists, but even algorithms have their shortcomings.
A prime example: My boyfriend is a big Brockhampton fan, and he uses the Google Home just as much as I do. Now, Brockhampton has not only ended up in my library, but it’s started creeping into my custom playlists.
Spotify is big on customisation and personalisation. But sometimes, the app can overdo it.
When you open the Spotify app, you’ll see a home screen that’s inundated with recommendations. There are four (four!) Daily Mix playlists, a Discover Weekly playlist, recommendations based on albums you just listened to, and new releases Spotify thinks you might like.
Apple Music has a lot of personalised options too, but it’s more limited and you mostly see it only when you ask for it (by clicking on the For You tab).
While other people might love all that customisation, it makes me feel bombarded and all I want is for Spotify to dial it back.
For now, however, I’m sticking with Spotify.
I’m not happy about it, but I had to figure out what I valued more: an app I loved, or getting the full functionality out of my Google Home devices. When it came down to it, it was definitely the latter.
Apple Music might be the better app for me, but it simply doesn’t work with Google Home the way I need it to. As much as I miss Apple Music, I would miss being able to say, “Hey Google, play the new Drake album” way more.
So until Apple Music works with the Google Home, I’ll be making do with Spotify.