Spotify may be the reigning champion of streaming music, but it's far from the only choice. Apple Music is a surprisingly competent app even on Android, and some of its recent additions make it an even better service. In May, Apple added lossless and spatial audio to its service at no additional cost, and with its latest app update, both are finally coming to Android.
Lossless audio seems to be the next significant advancement in music streaming. Amazon has been offering a high-quality plan since 2019, and in February, Spotify announced a new HiFi plan to launch later this year. Leave it to Apple to shake up the entire ecosystem with its announcement of lossless audio. Starting next month, all Apple Music subscribers will gain access to improved audio quality along with select Dolby Atmos tracks at no extra cost.
It's only been a few weeks since the latest version of Apple Music hit the Play Store, bringing along sharable music lyrics and the ability to search by record label. Apple isn't finished adding new features to the Android version of its streaming app, though. The latest beta release adds some flare to album and playlist artwork, all while hinting at an upcoming boost in sound quality.
For all that we've heard of Apple intentionally keeping Android out of its walled garden, the Apple Music streaming service seems to be a notable exception. Version 3.5 of the app is now rolling out to Android devices on the Play Store with a few interesting additions to its featureset.
Google killed Play Music in October 2020, a service many people loved for one feature in particular: its online music file locker with uploaded songs that seamlessly integrated with Play Music's streaming catalog. You could also just add titles you own and listen to them without ever having to pay a dime. Luckily, there are a few alternatives that replicate some of Play Music's capabilities, including its successor YouTube Music.
You can already play any content with Chromecast support on Google Assistant smart speakers, like the Nest Audio or Lenovo Smart Clock Essential, but you need a phone or tablet nearby to start the process. Some services offer full integration with Assistant, allowing you to ask for specific artists or songs using only your speaker, and now Apple Music is joining in.
Apple is preparing to launch iOS 14, and that means there are updates incoming for all of its system apps, including Music. It looks like the company is working on bringing over these latest changes to Android as soon as possible, as the latest Apple Music beta v3.4 already sports almost all of the new stuff that will come to iOS 14: there's a new icon, improved search, autoplay, and Listen Now, which replaces the For You section of old.
Apple Music gained a bunch of fresh new features in iOS 14, and they're enough to make YouTube Music jealous. The changes that landed on Android in beta version 3.4 include autoplay, a new smarter search experience, a revamped Now Playing interface, and one that got lost in all the other new stuff: crossfade.
Whenever people discuss digital voice assistants, the conversation usually ends with the Google Assistant triumphing over Apple's Siri. I haven't owned an iOS device since I sold my childhood iPod Touch, but earlier this summer, I took the plunge and bought an iPhone 11 to see what I'd been missing — and to check out Siri's smarts for myself. It's much better than I expected, and in fact, there is at least one area where Siri makes the Google Assistant look like an off-key cover band: music.
While Android users might be more inclined to go to something like Spotify, Deezer or YouTube Music for their music streaming needs, Apple Music shouldn't be discounted—not least because it's one of just three Android apps that Apple officially makes, and is by far the most significant (see if you can guess what the othertwo are).