In a slight deviation to my normal car photo blogging I have written up some initial thoughts about Spotify vs Apple Music. I have been a Spotify Premium subscriber for about 18 months and yet my life if full of Apple stuff. I thought I would do an objective comparison.
Both seem to have similar content for my musical taste. The odd song here and there does not appear but broadly ok.
Apple music does seamlessly integrate your purchased and self ripped music with streaming. However I personally find it very confusing understanding what is downloaded to my phone or not. I mostly listen to music whilst travelling and so offline listening is essential. This ought to be a relatively simple user interface fix.
Spotify 9; Apple 9
Curated Playlists & Personalisation
I have had a bit of hit and miss experience with Spotify generated playlists. Some are really good whereas most are a bit random. The update frequency can also be a bit iffy. Personalised content is also weak in Spotify. One of the best curation features I have discovered is actually BRITify. BRITify auto generates Spotify playlists based on what music is played on BBC radio. Therefore if you are a fan of a particular DJ then you can subscribe to their playlist for a specific show or a rolling last 100 songs played. Therefore instant curation. Well worth a look. The score below reflects Spotify out of the box and not BRITify which I cover in a later section about connectivity.
With Apple Music I have not had chance to listen to many of the curated playlists. However the ones it has suggested have, so far, been 80% of interest (good) and filled with a good length track list of songs that I like (old and new). So far so good.
Spotify 4; Apple 8
Only a brief mention here as I don’t really use it. Spotify links to Facebook and you can share stuff. Try adding non-Facebook friends is a bit harder (but possible with googling).
Apple music has Connect and it feels a bit like Ping. Maybe I am not the target demographic but I am not sure I get why people would use it over and above Twitter and Facebook sharing.
Spotify 6; Apple 6
The Spotify interface has moved on lots and lots over the past few years and it is both easy to navigate and easy to find content. The reduction of the ‘starred’ feature and the saving of albums and songs is a bit clunky though. The desktop app is reasonable but seems to lag in features to the mobile apps.
The Apple Music UI looks pretty but I have found it very hard to navigate around. I think this is because I think that they are trying to cram too much in. The tabs along the bottom don’t work for me and it just feels like it needs an overhaul. The desktop is just another tab in iTunes and it seems to just make iTunes even more overloaded with features. Not very good. The biggest issue is that on my phone I have no idea which songs are available offline or not (Spotify has a green icon next to the offline songs). This needs fixing urgently.
Spotify 8; Apple 2
Stability and Bugs
I have not had many issues with Spotify recently. In fact I can’t think of any at all.
Apple Music however feels more like a beta product. I get Apple ID errors when I download some songs already in my purchase history, the UI is laggy, the search is inconsistent, I sometimes get a ‘This content is not authorised’ error when playing the radio and I get intermittent playback pauses when playing via my car.
Spotify 10; Apple 6
It is in this category that (currently) Spotify wipes the floor with Apple. Spotify is integrated with so much via its API. So I can link to Shazam, Sonos, BRITify all simply integrated into Spotify. There are also a tonne of apps out there that let you add to, manage, subscribe to and populate playlists.
The Sonos connectivity alone justifies the Spotify Premium subscription for me.
Apple Music. Hmm. I guess there will be one in the future but not now. Sonos support is by the end of 2015 so maybe that will include an API for others to integrate? Until then it feels very ‘old school’ in its walled garden and is really missing out on the ecosystem aspects that an open API can bring. I understand that Beats has an API so hopefully Apple are looking to introduce that on Apple Music relatively soon.
Spotify 10; Apple 0
I have listened to the radio occasionally on Spotify but it never really floated my boat. Radio to me needs a person providing some colour and background info about the artist or intro to the songs.
I spent a few hours listening to Zane Lowe on Beats1 this week. The music mix is good and the talkie bits were mostly interesting. There was a slight over enthusiasm on a kind of Beats1 jingle over some tracks but otherwise, early days, but I quite liked it. I have listened to a few more of the other radio stations but I think it is only Beats1 that has live DJs hosting the shows.
Spotify 2; Apple 8
I listen to a lot of music in the car and it is usually from an old iPod permanently left in the car. Since subscribing to Spotify premium I have not bought any music for over 18 months so that music on my iPod is starting to get tired. This week I tried connecting my iPhone to my car to see what happened.
Spotify works natively (on a 2014 BMW) but it is a tiny bit clunky to get it going. You have to launch the app on the phone and click about on the iDrive for a few clicks to get it going. Once launched it works fine until you disconnect the phone and then you have to do the connection click fest all over again. A small gripe but Spotify doesn’t show the Album art on the car screen, just the track name.
Apple music is just like connecting an iPod and it just works on the car without having to faff about. The album art shows up and you can disconnect and reconnect the iPhone and it just carries on where it left off. Pretty seamless. One minor gripe is that the car sees all tracks and playlists in your library but doesn’t differentiate those that are not stored on the phone and would be streamed. So I tried to play a few tracks of these streamed tracks and just got silence. Not the best user experience. Also as I mentioned above there is a random and intermittent pausing of music for about 10 seconds which is perhaps once per hour but still a little annoying. It only seemed to happen when connected to the car rather than playing through headphones.
Spotify 7; Apple 8
Spotify costs £10 per month and an additional £5 for additional people in the household.
Apple Music costs £10 per month and then a fixed £15 a month for up to 6 people in the same household account (linked by the same credit card). A really good price point, especially if they can get Sonos in the fold also at no extra cost.
Spotify 7 ; Apple 10
In short I don’t think I will be cancelling my Spotify Premium. For now.
Apple needs to sort out the bugs and fix the UI on both the mobile and desktop. I can’t help feeling that Apple Music is hampered by the iTunes legacy baggage where Apple had the opportunity to create a whole new and modern experience with a standalone solution. Being in the UK I never used Beats but I wonder if people in the US will also be hankering for a standalone experience like Beats was. I guess I could somehow remove all the older music from iTunes (not sure how) and start from scratch with Apple Music to start fresh but I am not sure I can be bothered!
Maybe in 6 months or so when the UI is improved (hopefully), Sonos works and maybe an open API is released I will flip. Until then I am sticking with Spotify. To be honest the main driver for flipping to Apple Music would be the better car integration and possibly the personalised content. I plan to persevere with Apple Music during the trial though.
Total scores (out of 90):
Spotify 63; Apple 58
This is a track toy of someone I used to work with. He is a bit of a hands on car person and had replaced the stock engine with a V8. This car is truly unique
Another lesson learned. I had obtained permission to use this car park but I had forgotten to bring a print of the email with me. The network was bad so I spent about 10 minutes trying to get the email to download onto my phone in order to prove to the security guard who was trying to throw me out that I had permission to be there! We got there in the end…
I was very lucky to be able to spend 20 minutes with this fantastic car today. I had to wait nearly an hour to get my chance but it was worth it.
This car truly is the future. It has a 1.5L 3-cyl engine that I swear sounds like a 6-cyl when you give it some welly. It hits 62 from a standing start in 4.4 seconds and, incredibly, manages nearly 135mpg. It is early days but BMW have proven that electric cars can be fast, frugal and ever so desirable. This might be my current favourite car.
I guess it was about time that I photoed one of the most iconic cars of all time, a Volkswagen Beetle. This is a slightly customised 1973 version repainted in a dusty pink.
Check out the wiggle on this road! I was very fortunate to find it on Google Streetview when I was researching locations for the shoot. Fortunately it was a very quiet road so we were able to park the car up and have my lying in the middle of the road taking photos! The location was so great I took a few.
I was quite excited to photograph this car. I love BMWs and the red and black of the car was going to be a great photographic combination. This shoot also equals my record for the number of times I have been chucked out of somewhere by a security guard on a single shoot (twice)! We took a load of shots with the flash but I was disappointed with most of them to be honest so they didn’t make the cut. I am pleased with these ones that did make the cut though.
The 2012 BMW M3 Limited Edition 500 has no dynamic differences to the normal M3 but does have £4000 of extras included in the bundle. As you can guess by the name they only made 500 of them too. This version is Imola Red whereas you could also order Mineral White and Santorini Blue. The car colour choices reflect the colours on the ‘M’ badge. Externally the differences with the usual M3 are the bits that are usually chrome (grill, exhaust, etc) are now ‘dark chrome’ and the high gloss black 19″ “220M” wheels. This model shares the standard M3′s 4.0 litre V8 engine and fancy DCT double clutch.
Price when new: £56,000
Engine: 4.0-litre V8
0-62mph: 4.6 seconds
Photos wise, the one immediately below is my favourite from the shoot. It was taken after sunset so there is a lovely soft light on the car and the top down view makes it look a little different. The soft light emphasises the power bulge on the bonnet which I quite like also.
A combination of RUBBISH weather and lack of spare time means it has been a long time since I have been out with a car to photo. No worries as here is a great example of an Audi TTS Black Edition.
The owner and I spent a few hours in the Aldershot area doing some rig shots and some flash shots. Being a white car it meant that the flash gun based shots were pretty easy to take and easy to process. Unlike the car I am working on at the moment! But more on that next post.
Due to being away visiting family I missed the bulk of the flooding in Guildford this December. Here are a few after the event images of some of the remnants of the flooding. The biggest impact on us was small, it took us an extra 30 minutes to get out of Guildford on Christmas morning because the first 4 roads we tried to use were all closed due to the flooding.
By the time we got home the worst of the flooding had subsided but I went for a short walk to see what remnants I could find. Unfortunately it was already very dark so I was restricted to a few areas with lighting!
It all started with an email out of the blue about this photo:
I had an email from the magazine editor who had found my photo on Flickr and was wondering if she could use the photo on their cover September edition cover. Great! I was given the minimum size for the image but unfortunately when I checked the size of the image this one was too small for commercial print when changed to portrait format. Damn!
Looking out of the window I realised that it was going to be a sunny evening so I thought: “reshoot!”. So off I went, the location is only 15 minutes walk from my house but I was racing against the sunset. I knew the image deadline was first thing the next morning so needed to make sure I got a usable shot this one evening. Fortunately the powers that be were kind to me and I was blessed with a sunny evening with some clouds in the sky for interest. I was also fortunate that some kindly picnickers sat in front of the chapel which worked well to give a sense of scale but also an example of people living the “surrey life”. I grabbed a few shots over the period of an hour and emailed them off to the editor. A few days later and after some last minute photoshop tweaks at my end I was told that my image had been selected. Coolio!
Back in April my wife and I went on a driving holiday from San Francisco to Las Vegas. The landscape was incredible and the scenery was fantastic. Maybe I will cover those in a different post but for this one it is all about the cars.
The image above is of a car in a shopping mall that I have tweaked up in Photoshop a little to make it more interesting. I didn’t get to drive that car but I did drive all of the ones below.
Starting with the Rental…
A 2013 Ford Explorer. I loved it. It wasn’t the fastest car but to do 1500 miles with a tonne of luggage it was great.
…and then the supercars…
Which supercar did I like the best? It is a tough one actually.
I have always said that if I had supercar money then the first ever supercar I would buy would be a red Ferrari. I mean it is almost supercar LAW to buy a Ferrari first. Once I have bought one I would branch out I think.
Of this list then the Ferrari was the first mainly because it just looks fantastic from every angle AND it is a Ferrari.
Next, surprisingly was the Jag. It felt really solid, really comfortable but the 5-litre supercharged V8 made the most amazing guttural noise that was incredible.
Then it was the Audi. The Audi felt quite normal and tame compared to the other cars there but it was FAST! As it was a hard top we didn’t get to hear the engine sound as well as on the Jag (or Ferrari for that matter) so it felt a little bit….boring.
Finally it was the Lambo. Great looking, great sounding but bloody uncomfortable. The roof line was right in my eye line so I had to crouch down in my seat. Speaking of the seat, I couldn’t fit my shoulders in so it was very uncomfortable indeed!
So in conclusion: I would have the Ferrari as a weekend toy but I think I would probably drive the Jag every day, if I could also afford the fuel!
I have just finished processing the images I took from last month’s 2013 Geneva Motor Show. I have already posted some images of the new super cars a few weeks ago but here are the rest of the images I took.
Mercedes-Benz CLA (which apparently looks better than it drives)