So long Apple Music

So long Apple Music
Photo by James Yarema / Unsplash

In late 2021 I bought a pair of Airpods Max on black Friday. With this move, I was deeper into the Apple ecosystem than ever before, and going further seemed like the next natural step. The Airpods came with a 3 months free subscription to Apple Music, so I decided that I would use it as my primary music service for 2022. Now, with 2023 having rolled around, I could finally run back to Spotify having completed what came to be a quite terrible year.

The good

Starting out, Apple Music is as well integrated into the Apple ecosystem as you would expect. My iPhone shows a lock screen widget with my last four albums when the Airpods connect to the phone. With a quick tap, I'm back into the album I was listening to. The Apple Watch shows album art, and have controls easily accessible when listening. While I don't use the option to connect the Airpods directly to the watch, it is a great feature for those that want to leave their phone at home when going for a run.

The music quality is also absolutely great! A surprisingly large portion of the music I listen to is available in Dolby Atmos, which is an amazing (though at times disorienting) experience. While lossless audio is also available, it is quite useless given that the Bluetooth protocol is not able to transfer enough data to replicate the audio quality.

My thought was that I would buy Homepod Minis for all the rooms in the apartment, and use the handoff feature to move playback from the phone to the speakers. But before I made that investment, the bad parts of Apple Music started creeping in.

The bad

The iPhone app is way to focused on Apples own curated content. This is what Apple uses to set themselves apart from their competition, but it is not very relevant for me. But that doesn't stop it form taking up most of the three primary tabs in the interface.

The fourth tab is dedicated to playlists, but the playlist interface is also quite terrible. Every row takes up an insane amount of space, causing you to have to scroll a lot if you don't want to search for a playlist. Playlists must also be sorted by either last played, added, updated, title or type. There is no option to sort manually.

But the biggest nail in the coffin is the Mac app. Good lord it is the slowest, most terrible app I have ever had the misfortune of using! Any search takes at least 3 seconds to complete. Album art randomly disappears on some tracks in the same album. You get bugged about allowing notifications every time you start the app. Playlists are ordered alphabetically, with no way to change it (that I have found). The search field is tiny. Navigation is horribly slow, with no global back button. (You can go back in the Apple Music view, but not when navigating between playlists.)

When starting playback again after having paused, it usually starts the song from the beginning, not the last played position. And some songs have a small but annoying "skip" in the audio within the first 20-30 seconds. It seems to be an error in the file being played back, because it is still present after rewinding and playing the same segment again.

And the worst part, it has not gotten any better in a year. It is exactly as bad as when I started using it a year ago! It's just not god enough.

So, I have returned to my old love - Spotify. Where the interface is snappy, the playlists and my own music is at the center of the experience, navigation makes sense, and the playback is smooth. So be it that the integration with iOS is not as great, and that I won't get the seamless integration with Homepods (and probably won't even buy them). I'm giving up Dolby Atmos, but I get to use an app that feels like it belongs in 2023.