Aside from a brief period when Apple Music first launched, I’ve been a paying subscriber to Spotify since 2011, and it’s safe to say that I love what’s on offer. It’s not just the sheer number of songs, albums and podcasts available, but the quality of the curated playlists – and let’s be honest, the end of year review is a lot of fun too.
That’s why it pains me to admit that I’ve finally made the jump to Apple Music and I’m not looking back. Why? Because I’m an iPhone user, and it seems that Spotify has all but given up trying to improve its presence on iOS.
Let me explain.
AirPlay has been a staple of the Apple ecosystem for years, allowing users to either play audio or mirror their display to an AirPlay receiver, be it an Apple TV or AirPlay-supported speaker. It’s a handy feature that makes streaming music from the likes of Spotify, Apple Music and just about any other audio app a simple process.
Apple released the upgraded AirPlay 2 back in 2018, bringing true multi-room audio support among features like Siri voice control and improved buffering to supported systems. The catch? App developers have to specifically add support for AirPlay 2 to take advantage of the new features – something that's pretty standard for mobile app developers.
While Spotify is arguably one of the best apps to take advantage of the multi-room support for AirPlay 2, the company has suggested that it’s not practical.
Taking to a Spotify forum thread, a Spotify rep explained: "We've discussed this Idea internally and while we are working on supporting AirPlay 2 in a proper way, we have decided to close it for now. The reason for this is that due to audio driver compatibility issues, this seems like a bigger project that we won't be able to complete in the foreseeable future."
After backlash from customers and online outlets alike, the same rep attempted to rectify the situation. Posting again on the forum, the rep said: "We apologize for any confusion we have caused. To clarify, Spotify will support Airplay 2. Please continue to use this thread to add your votes and comments."
It’s likely that this is more of a knee-jerk reaction to the disappointing AirPlay 2 news, and I personally don’t expect to see it implemented any time soon. Surely not that much would’ve changed in the space of a day!
The HomePod, though now discontinued, offers a phenomenal audio playback experience that truly shines when compared to most other smart speakers on the market. The HomePod Mini, even with its small dimensions, offers a great experience – especially when paired for stereo playback.
This makes the speakers ideal for music playback, and while Spotify users have traditionally had to rely on AirPlay rather than full integration as with Apple Music, Apple opened the doors to third-party streaming support back in late 2020. Pandora has taken advantage, with users now able to listen to Pandora content via the HomePod without having to use an iOS device.
Spotify, however, hasn’t said a word about native HomePod support since its release despite thousands calling for it in Spotify’s forums. Given the fact that we’re fast approaching the anniversary of the announcement, it’s unlikely that Spotify will offer integration anytime soon.
There’s also offline storage support for the Apple Watch. The Apple Watch has always been able to store a small playlist of songs, allowing you to play your favourite tunes without the need to have your iPhone nearby. It’s ideal for running and other exercises, and something I have wanted from Spotify for years.
Admittedly, Spotify has started to roll out the ability to offline playlists on Apple Watch, but the rollout is painfully slow and months after its initial announcement, it’s still unavailable in large swathes of the UK and US, with no clear timeline in place as to when it should appear.
The nail in the coffin? That’s all available with Apple Music, with pretty much the same music collection – some of which is available in Dolby Atmos (and Apple Spatial Audio if you’ve got compatible buds) – for the same £9.99/$9.99 a month price tag.
If you’ve got a HomePod, AirPlay 2 speaker or even an Apple Watch, it’s time to accept the truth: Apple Music offers the best experience for iOS users, and until Spotify cares more about supporting features than digging at Apple at any opportunity it gets, that’s unlikely to change.