Though it was Spotify that created the music streaming business from scratch, the US tech giants Apple and Amazon have also been offering their own music streaming services and have built a strong presence. According to Financial Times, Amazon Music Unlimited has become the fastest-growing music streaming service out there, growing at an impressive rate of around 70% a year. While Amazon Music Unlimited has 32 million subscribers, Apple Music has amassed more than 60 million paying users worldwide. In this Amazon Music Unlimited vs Apple Music comparison, let’s check out how the two services stack up in terms of device support, features, music library, and pricing.
Before we begin, you should know that Amazon offers two different music streaming services. Don’t confuse them. There is the Amazon Prime Music, which comes bundled with the online retailer’s Prime membership. If you are an Amazon Prime member, you already have access to Amazon Prime Music. One of the biggest limitations of Prime Music is that it has a limited catalog of just two million songs.
The second one is Amazon Music Unlimited, which is a standalone service with more than 50 million songs in its library, including the latest releases. It’s ad-free and allows users to download and listen to songs anywhere. In fact, both Music Unlimited and Prime Music have the same interface and similar features. The primary difference is the number of songs you can access.
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Amazon Music Unlimited vs Apple Music: Device support
Both services are available on Android and iOS devices. Amazon Music Unlimited also has desktop apps for Windows PCs and Macs, but the user interface on desktops is rudimentary at best. It also allows users to listen to music through the web player. The Amazon Music Unlimited also works on Amazon’s Echo speakers and Fire TV devices.
Apple Music is also available on Macs and PCs through the iTunes app, and its interface is much more refined and intuitive than Amazon Music Unlimited. However, Apple’s service doesn’t allow you to listen to music through a web player. You have to rely on a web widget for that.
Apple Music works well with Apple’s smart speaker HomePod. Though users can also set it up to stream on Amazon speakers, it’s not that seamless. Similarly, Amazon Music Unlimited works far better with Alexa-enabled Echo speakers than it does with Siri-based HomePod. Both streaming services support Apple’s CarPlay and Google’s Android Auto.
Amazon Music Unlimited vs Apple Music: User interface
Amazon’s music streaming service has a dark interface and it’s pretty easy to navigate. The Browse tab shows you popular playlists, latest releases, song recommendations, and more. The My Music section contains all the music you have saved, which is organized by songs, genres, playlists, and artists. The Recents tab showcases the recently played songs and your song history. The Alexa AI assistant is integrated into the app, allowing users to control playback with voice commands.
Apple Music has a plain white look. Apple has organized the Music app’s interface into tabs to let you quickly browse through your catalog, access the library, listen to the radio, or check out recommendations. It allows you to look at lyrics if a song has the lyrics available. Apple Music also supports 3D Touch on compatible devices. There is also a For You tab that lets you explore the suggestions based on your taste.
Apple Music users can follow their friends, assuming they are also subscribers to the service, and share playlists. You can also see what your friends are listening to. Amazon’s service doesn’t yet offer any such feature. If you want to share a song or playlist, you have to use WhatsApp, text, or social media.
Amazon Music Unlimited vs Apple Music: Streaming quality
Apple Music uses the AAC format and streams music at 256Kbps. Instead of revealing bitrates, Amazon allows users to select one of the three audio quality options: low, medium, high. The ability to choose the streaming quality comes handy for people who don’t want to spend a lot of cellular data.
Unless you are a hardcore audiophile with the best quality headphones, you are not going to notice the difference between the highest quality streams on either service.
Amazon Music Unlimited vs Apple Music: Pricing and plans
The cost of Amazon’s service varies depending on several factors. If you are an Amazon Prime member, the service is going to cost $8 per month or $80 per year. If you are a Prime member and also own the Echo smart speaker, it will cost you only $4 per month, but this subscription is linked to only a single device. Individuals with no Prime membership will have to shell out $10 per month.
Students can access Amazon Music Unlimited for just 5 per month if they sign up using their student credentials. The family plan costs $15 per month and allows access to up to six people using a personal account for each member. Currently, Amazon is running a promotion where Prime members can try out Music Unlimited for four months at just $0.99. The promotion ends on July 15.
Both Apple and Amazon offer a free trial to customers. While Apple’s free trial lasts three months before converting to a paid membership, Amazon’s trial is for only 30 days. Users can cancel the subscription anytime on either service.
For Apple Music, the paid membership costs $5 per month for students and $10 per month for individual users. It also has a $15 per month family plan, which allows up to six family members to access the service using a personal account for each member. What’s more, the members can also share iTunes purchases.
Amazon Music Unlimited vs Apple Music: Music library
Both services have a huge catalog of more than 50 million songs. You can stream them or download them for offline playback. Amazon allows its subscribers to download up to 100,000 songs, which you can access on up to 10 devices. Apple Music also lets you download up to 100,000 songs for offline playback.
Apple Music allows you to easily sync the library to different devices using the iCloud Music Library. The iCloud Music Library matches the songs in your library with that in your iTunes catalog. If a song is missing, it will automatically upload them. Amazon Music also offers a similar feature but it’s not as refined as that of Apple Music.
Amazon Music Unlimited vs Apple Music: Music discovery
Both the services do a pretty good job to help you find new music based on your taste. Apple Music has a For You section that is populated with new releases, daily mixes, and playlists. It also has a Radio tab with curated music stations based on your favorite artists and genres. It also gives you access to Beats1 radio station, which offers 24/7 live radio. You can also explore music, videos, artists, and playlists through the Browse section.
On Amazon’s service, much of the personalization and discovery happens on the home screen. But it lags far behind Apple Music in terms of music discovery. It has a For You section with recommended albums and playlists, but the targeting is not as personalized as Apple Music’s.
Amazon Music Unlimited is an excellent choice if you are already a Prime member and have an Echo speaker. That’s because it’s cheaper for Echo owners and Prime members, and it works well with Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant. But that’s about it. Apple Music has a much more intuitive interface, excellent music discovery, and Apple does a wonderful job at securing live performances, concert videos, and new releases.
If you want to listen to music without having to pay, you can turn to Amazon Prime Music if you have Prime membership. For everyone else, the ad-supported version of Spotify is a great choice.