After years of testing, I determined Apple Music is good, but it’s only worthwhile if you’re deeply invested in the Apple ecosystem.

Music Discovery (C):

  • Apple’s created a clone of Spotify’s Discover Weekly, called “My New Music Mix” and “My Chill Mix.” The playlists are awful but should improve as Apple fine-tunes their algorithm.
  • Apple Music has the best human-made playlists of all the contenders.
  • Apple Music uses the genre system with their algorithmically curated playlists, which has fewer options than Spotify. These curated playlists need some work.
  • Apple Music Radio stations are limited.

Apps (B+):

  • Apple Music on iOS was a mess at first, but they made significant improvements with iOS 11. I like its flow and enjoy the experience as much as Spotify.
  • Apple’s most significant selling point is that it’s part of the native iOS and Mac landscape. It’s familiar, and there’s no learning curve. If you have previously-downloaded music stored on Apple devices, it’ll still be there and work seamlessly.
  • Apple Music’s buttons are big and easily tappable.
  • Apple Music optimizes your library (optional) by sending songs you haven’t recently listened to to the cloud. The songs sent to the cloud still show up in your library and are playable. If you’re using a 16GB iPhone, this is a crucial feature to save you from running out of room for new music.
  • They have “smart playlists.” For instance, I could make a playlist for every song I’ve rated four stars, that last three minutes, and have artist names beginning with “f” and the playlist will update as I add more songs to my library. I love smart playlists, and Apple Music is the only service to support them. Unfortunately, you have to create them in iTunes first.
  • Apple Music uses iTunes on the computer. Anyone who’s owned an iPod knows how iTunes works. It’s clunky, outdated, and isn’t integrated well with Apple Music.
  • Apple doesn’t have a web player. I don’t need one, but you’re out of luck if you do.
  • You can search by lyrics.

Compatibility (C):

  • Apple Music is amazing for those in Apple’s ecosystem.
  • It works with Siri on iPhone.
  • It works with HomePod via voice, and it’s seamlessly integrated.
  • There’s an Apple Watch app. I keep my Apple Music subscription around just for bike rides. Apple Music on my Apple Watch via my AirPods is a brilliant combination, and I leave my phone at home.
  • It works flawlessly with Apple TV.
  • You can play Apple Music on all Alexa devices now with full voice integration.
  • You can play Apple Music on Google Home devices via Bluetooth, but there’s no smart integration. If you’re a big user of Google’s smart speakers, you should look elsewhere.

Library (A):

  • You can upload up to 100,000 of your OWN songs to iCloud to be streamed and integrated with your Apple Music collection. This is Apple Music’s biggest advantage over Spotify, especially if you have music that’s not in their catalog.
  • When you add a song to a playlist, it’s simultaneously added to your library. For most music services, you need to add songs to playlists and your library separately.
  • It’s easy to distinguish what’s in your library and what’s not.

Bonus (A):

Quick Review (TL;DR)

Discovery: They have solid human-made playlists, but the algorithms aren't ideal.
Apps: The iOS app looks great, but the computer version uses iTunes and it’s messy.
Compatibility: It’s great with Apple Watch and HomePod, and now Alexa devices.
Library: You can upload up to 100,000 songs to iCloud to be streamed.
Bonus: There’s a 90-day free trial. It’s $5/month for students.

Who is this for?

Apple Music is best for you if you’re heavily invested in the Apple ecosystem or already have music downloaded in the iPhone Music app. It’s a must-have for HomePod and Apple Watch owners. Apple Music needs work on their music discovery and a web app would be nice.