It takes a very specific consumer to buy an Android phone while using Apple Music. But the little overlap in this Venn diagram can get bigger. Last month at WWDC, Apple unveiled a free update for Apple Music subscribers that added lossless audio streaming and spatial audio with Dolby Atmos support. Now Android users can access these features as well.
Last year, Google shut down its Google Play Music (RIP) app in an attempt to allow users to migrate to YouTube Music. Some longtime Android fans are still unhappy with the move and don’t think YouTube Music is up to the task – but for audiophiles, these Apple Music updates might be what it takes to change them. However, not all Android devices still support Atmos.
Apple Music isn’t the only streaming platform to increase its audio quality. On the same day that Apple announced its enhanced audio features at WWDC, Amazon Music also announced that it would support lossless streaming and spatial audio with the Atmos feature. Like Apple, Amazon offers these improvements at no additional cost to subscribers. Spotify also plans to launch a lossless audio feature, called HiFi, but it will be a premium add-on, rather than a free upgrade like Apple Music or Amazon Music. YouTube Music does not yet offer comparable functionality.
Currently, Spotify is the industry leader in streaming with 158 million paying subscribers. For comparison, Apple Music had 60 million subscribers in June 2019 and Amazon Music had 55 million in January 2020, but the two companies have not shared updated figures since then; YouTube Music has at least 20 million paying users. Even on consumer grade headphones, you can hear the difference between a lossless FLAC file and a compressed mp3 – but if you’re such an avid audiophile that you need to listen to prime quality sound, just get Tidal.