Apple has long been a critic of the Android ecosystem. The Californian brand, which sees Google’s OS as a pale copy of its iPhone (which was the case at the start), likes to make fun of the fragmentation of Android or the design of certain entry-level terminals. Even today, Apple does everything to make the use of its services complicated on smartphones from Samsung and its other competitors. iCloud, iMessage, FaceTime, Apple TV+… Most of its services are unavailable on the Google platform, in the same way that the Apple Watch cannot be paired with a smartphone competing with the iPhone. It’s fair game, even if it makes the transition from iOS to Android very complicated.
However, there is an exception. Since its launch in 2015, Apple Music has been available on Android. Why ? That’s an excellent question. It’s hard to imagine someone who doesn’t have an iPhone choosing this service over Spotify or Deezer, but Apple seems to think that there is a possible customer base among the competition (or perhaps thinking of Mac and iPad users with a phone from another brand? Or the faithful of iTunes and the iPod?). Anyway, this Apple Music app for Android is amazing. On several aspects, it does much better than the iOS application, installed by default on iPhones and iPads.
The real Apple Music, on Android
L’application Apple Music of Android is very similar to that of iOS. In fact, the interface is almost identical, even if the Android version has the advantage of flexibility. On a Galaxy Z Fold 4, for example (the device we are currently testing), it adapts perfectly to its large screen by taking over the interface of the iPadOS application. Apple engineers have designed a really complete application, which uses Android codes very well despite its iOS interface.
In addition to its similar interface, the Android version of Apple Music incorporates the same functions as the iOS version. One would have thought that Apple would reserve lossless audio, spatial audio (Dolby Atmos) or the display of lyrics for its iPhone, but that’s not the case. An Apple Music subscriber on an Android smartphone has access to all Apple Music functions, in the same interface. It’s rare for an Apple service, but you’ll see that it’s not the most surprising.
Tons of Android-exclusive features
Indeed, the Android version of Apple Music also has exclusive functions. Here are some of them identified by Numerama:
- We can connect and disconnect easily on Apple Music Android to, for example, allow a friend to access his playlists in the evening, while the use of Apple Music on iOS is linked to the Apple account connected to his iPhone.
- The settings are directly integrated into the application, which makes it easy to change the quality of downloaded files, enable spatial audio, or update your payment information. On iOS, you have to go to the system settings.
- On Android, Apple Music allows you to configure the Crossfade between two songs (it adds a natural transition from one music to another). There is also a built-in equalizer to the app (which can redirect to system settings when available). On iOS, this is impossible.
- Another exclusive function, Apple Music Android allows you to configure a sleep timer. After a certain time, the end of a song or the end of an album, playback stops on its own. On iOS, you have to be tricky by programming the stop of audio playback in the application Watch. Not very ergonomic.
- The Android version of Apple Music does not support AirPlay, but has exclusive Google Cast. You can send music or clips to a compatible TV or speaker easily. If you have a Google Assistant speaker at home, it’s better to have an Android smartphone than an iPhone.
- On Android, Apple Music offers two widgets (there is only one on iOS). Their size can change and you can interact with them to control playback.
- The settings allow you to clear read cache or of change the maximum storage capacity dedicated to caching. Several levels are offered, between 200 MB and 5 GB. iOS does not allow you to control all that.
- There is a download manager quite complete, to see the progress of its song downloads (including 24-bit lossless).
- We also have the possibility easy access to downloaded tracks from the application to do housework. It is possible in the system settings on iOS, but it does not work very well.
- The dark theme can be enabled independently of Android settings (or synced to Android). On iOS, it necessarily depends on the system settings.
- In case of problem with an album cover, Apple Music Android allows to reset and re-download them. On iOS, this is impossible.
Other more subjective elements, Apple Music for Android seems more responsive to us than the iOS version, which often displays blank pages during loading. Another advantage linked to the Android ecosystem: many smartphones still have a jack. To enjoy lossless audio, a device other than iPhone, paired with Apple Music, is arguably more convenient.
Integrated settings and regular updates, the key to success?
How to explain that an Android version of an Apple service does better than the software integrated into iOS? We didn’t even ask the brand the question before writing this article, since it seems clear to us that none of its spokespersons will explain to us that they agree with us. It’s hard to imagine Apple writing to us that Android is more pleasant to use than iOS, explaining why.
In our opinion, Apple Music for Android performs so well for several reasons. The first is the most obvious: Apple has provided the means. The team dedicated to this software, which probably has to eat a little away in the canteen, is competent and knows the secrets of Google’s OS very well. Even if his work is not very well put forward, it is of quality.
We also think that Apple Music for Android has another major advantage: it’s an independent application, which updates like Twitter. or Facebook, while the iOS version is dependent on iPhone updates (Apple never upgrades its built-in apps separately). As a result, Android app developers have more flexibility. Their sleep timer ready? They add it to the app and submit the update to Google (there’s even a beta version on the Play Store, with new features ahead of time!).
What is surprising is that this freedom suits Apple, which could be tempted to favor its iPhone. This operation also benefits the settings, completely integrated into the application and more complete. On iPhone, Apple probably does not want to make its application too complicated and therefore hides the settings elsewhere, even if it means simplifying them as much as possible.
What should we conclude from all this? That Apple should probably review its operation with integrated applications. If the Apple Music team could roll out updates whenever they wanted, and not wait for iOS 16, iOS 16.1, or iOS 17, then they would be moving much faster. While waiting for the release of our test of the latest folding smartphone from Samsung, we will continue to make the most of this improved Apple Music.