TIME Apple

This Is Apple Music’s 1 Huge Advantage Over Spotify

It's simpler than you think

Apple on Monday unveiled a new music streaming service called, aptly enough, Apple Music. It combines your own music with Apple’s massive song library, plus human-powered Internet radio stations and recommendation engines.

Apple Music is clearly aimed at on-demand streaming king Spotify, even matching the $9.99/month price for Spotify’s ad-free Premium subscription. What Spotify offers that Apple Music doesn’t is a free version, which has a more limited feature set and jams your jams with ads every few songs.

But that free tier could actually be a massive disadvantage for Spotify. Only about about 15% of Spotify’s 60 million users pay for the service, but their subscription fees make up around 90% of the company’s revenue.

That small but highly lucrative slice of Spotify users is exactly what Apple is after with Apple Music. After all, those users have already shown they’re willing to fork over 10 bucks a month for unlimited tunes. And there’s no penalty for switching: Spotify charges month-to-month with no cancellation fee, so users aren’t locked in to the service. This also explains why Apple’s rolling out an Android version of Apple Music — to go after more of Spotify’s user base. If Apple converts enough of Spotify’s paid users, it could totally decimate Spotify’s business.

Read more Streaming Showdown: Apple Music vs. Spotify vs. Pandora vs. Rdio

But the biggest advantage Apple Music will have is even simpler than all that: It will be automatically installed when iPhone users upgrade to iOS 8.4 later this month, while iPhones sold with that software on board will have the app pre-installed. Installing an app from the App Store is a dead simple process, but it’s still a big barrier to adoption. Having that nice shiny Apple Music logo on users’ screens right off the bat will give Apple Music a big push in its early days — especially in concert with Apple’s three-months-free offering. If Apple converts enough trial users into paid subscribers, that one-two punch could send Spotify spiraling into second place.

Read next: 4 Things Apple Just Announced That You Need to Know About

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME Apple

See How Google and Apple’s Latest Big Announcements Compare

Apple and Google have both held major developers' conferences in the past few weeks. See how the big events compare.

TIME apps

Streaming Showdown: Apple Music vs. Spotify vs. Pandora vs. Rdio

It’s a digital battle of the bands for these music services

Back in 2001, Apple’s iPod “1000 songs in your pocket” ad campaign changed how the world thought about music. And over the 14 years that have passed since, high speed Internet and wireless data changed it again. These days, we have closer to zero songs in their pocket, because music streaming services let us listen to whatever we want on-demand from the cloud. But each streaming service hits its own set of high notes and low notes.

Here’s a comparison of the most popular subscription music services going:

Apple Music

When Apple’s new streaming music service launches on June 30, it could have a huge leg up on the competition because it will come pre-installed on millions of iPhones running the soon-to-be-released iOS 8.4 operating system. A medley of the former Beats Music paid subscription service and iTunes Radio, Apple’s free streaming offering, the $9.99-per-month Apple Music boasts more than 30 million tracks.

But the company knows a massive library isn’t enough if it wants to overtake competitors like Spotify. So the iPhone-maker bundled in some new features, as only it can. By unleashing Siri’s smarts on its library, Apple Music lets subscribers say things like, “Play the top songs from 1982,” and immediately get an earful of totally ‘80s tunes. Also, the Apple Music on-boarding process (which was a big part of Beats Music) is intuitive, quizzing users on their favorite genres and bands to get a feel for how to best customize its recommendations.

Still, nothing is better than the human touch. For that, Apple Music includes Beats 1, a worldwide streaming radio station with expertly selected tracks introducing people to great new artists. The company also boasts a new social feature that allows artists to share notes, photos, and other media with fans, directly in the app. Apple did something like this before with its Ping social music service, but it didn’t move the needle with fans or artists. So, like the entire offering, the jury is still out on this one until later this month for iOS and — get this — Android. One thing families will love is its group rate: $14.99 will cover six users in a household.


The reigning champion of the digital music world feature-wise, Spotify has more than 60 million active users in at least 58 countries, but only 15 million people pony up the $9.99 per month for the ad-free Premium service. Still, it’s those free users that stick in Apple’s craw, because they still get access to many of Spotify’s 30 million songs, only with ads interrupting the playback, among other restrictions.

Yet the big draw for many Spotify users is how refined the service has become since launching in 2008. As a platform hosting other apps on PCs, a digital jukebox on tablets, or a high-powered personal music library on mobile phones, Spotify delivers not only great tunes, but also an excellent user experience. And by integrating with Facebook early on, Spotify made it extremely easy for users to find their friends, letting them share their favorite albums, artists, playlists and tracks. Available on everything from Android to Windows to set-top boxes, Spotify has excellent reach not just with devices but also with demographics. Kids who have grown up listening to tracks on it are now turning their parents on to it as well. Thankfully, Spotify lets users double-, triple-, even quadruple-up on the bill by offering 50% off every account after the first. So, coincidentally, the cost for two household users is — you guessed it — $14.99.


With 80 million users, Pandora is currently the most popular streaming music service, but with Spotify and Apple Music on its heels, you have to wonder for how long. Pioneering data-driven personalized recommendations, the service was revolutionary when it launched in 2000. In the 15 years since, its seen the competition emulate its recommendation engine and surpass it in features offered. But name recognition alone keeps it awash in users, helping the free, ad-based side of the service continue to generate profit. Available everywhere from the Pebble smartwatch to the Ford Focus, Pandora has used its multi-year head start to gain ubiquity ahead of the competition.

But with far fewer songs in its library than Apple and Spotify, it works within its limitations. For instance, users can’t pull up just any song on demand; instead they can listen to a curated station based on an artist or song they enjoy. With the free service, users only get six skips an hour or 24 fast-forwards per day. Pandora One, the company’s $4.99 per month subscription offering, eliminates the ads and increases the amounts of skips a user gets, but continues to let stations automatically pause if they think you’re not listening, which can be a drag if you’re in a good radio groove.


Boasting the same 30 million-sized library as Spotify and Apple Music, Rdio takes a page out of all the competitors playbooks, offering free and a couple of paid tiers to provide plans to fit all its customers. The company’s free offering plays like Pandora, with ad supported radio stations based on artists, genres, moods, and more. Meanwhile, Rdio’s lowest cost plan, the $3.99 per month Rdio Select, cuts out the ads and the free service’s six-skips-per-hour limits. Or, for $9.99 per month, Rdio Unlimited delivers the on-demand perks that Spotify and Apple Music also promise: any track, or album, any time.

With desktop and mobile apps (including Android, iOS, and Windows Phone) Rdio’s reach competes with the other services very well. And with Facebook integration, it also has the social chops to help friends share music with each other. Unfortunately, these are all walled gardens, which means if you’re an Rdio user, you can’t share music with your Spotify-playing friends. Hopefully one day in the future, all these services will work in perfect harmony — but I wouldn’t bet on it.

TIME Gadgets

Must-Have Camping Gear For Your Summer Adventure

Westend61—Getty Images/Westend61 Hiking on trail

Fill your pack and hit the trails

Correction appended Tuesday, June 16.

It’s been argued the discovery of fire is mankind’s most important moment, but with burn bans occupying campgrounds across much of our drought-plagued nation, an open flame might not do you any good this year. Instead, you’ll need to rely on more modern innovations to keep you warm, dry, fed, and entertained. These 10 camping gadgets will not only help take the sting out of your smore-less nights, but they’re all compact enough to keep your load light as can be.

Biolite BaseCamp: Believe it or not, you can power your phone with wood. No, not Doc Brown or Bear Grylls—you. Heat is energy, and this cooking and charging station turns twigs and branches into electricity to power any USB-connected devices accompanying you into the wild.

And before you snicker like it’s a gimmick, the $299 stove works fairly quickly, with 30 minutes of fire juicing up five hours of talk time for the average smartphone. Coincidentally, 30 minutes is more than enough time for its grill to cook up some dinner. Batteries and burgers? That makes for happy campers.

CamelBak All Clear: If you’re gearing up for some backcountry camping, hauling a bunch of water with you can make your pack literally too heavy to bear. And since you’re headed to the realm of mountain springs and babbling brooks, what’s the sense in bringing your drink, anyway? This $99 water bottle uses ultra-violet light to purify water in just a minute. Able to zap more than 80 bottles before needing a recharge, the UV bulb, which is built into the container’s lid, lives up to 10,000 cycles. That’s enough for three bottles a day for nine years, in case you get lost out there.

 All Clear
CamelBakCamelBak All Clear

Eton Scorpion II: Whether you’re at home or at home on the range, this is one piece of gear you should have with you wherever you rest your head. A hand crank-charged AM/FM radio with NOAA weather band radio stations, this $59 device also doubles as a power bank and an LED flashlight, making it the ultimate safety gadget. Small and able to hook onto your pack, it can also collect power from its solar panel, so there’s no need to stuff it in the bottom of your bag.

 Scorpion II
EtonEton Scorpion II

GoPro Hero4: When camping, you really shouldn’t need a hero. But in case you do, at least this one won’t take up much room in your bag. Shooting everything from 30-frame-per-second 4K video to boring old still photos, this is the action camera of choice for everyone from extreme athletes to extremely spoiled teenagers. At $499, the wearable shooter might be the most expensive piece of gear on your trip, but the memories you can capture with it are priceless. With burst, time lapse, and even nighttime shooting modes, it’s a great way to capture the beauty of nature — so you can look back on those epic hikes when winter rolls around and you’re back to hibernating.

GoProGoPro Hero4

Olympus TG-4: Given its price, the GoPro isn’t for everyone. At $379, the TG-4 is great for everyone else. Able to withstand seven-foot drops, water depths of 50 feet, temperatures down to 14 degrees Fahrenheit, and a 220 pound rock crushing it, this camera is ideal for adventurers or very clumsy people. With GPS features, you can keep track of your favorite shots on a map, and Wi-Fi capabilities let you use an accompanying app for remote shooting. That’s not to forget the wide-angle lens and great 16 megapixel CMOS image sensor that even captures RAW images. You’re going to have some good looking memories.

OlympusOlympus TG-4

Osprey Atmos AG: This backpack’s boast of having “anti-gravity suspension” is most likely marketing-speak, but the trekkers who swear their 35-pound loads feel more like 20 pounds won’t hear of it. The real story is a lightweight mesh that hugs the body close from the hip to the shoulders, making the fit more like an extension of the body. While there’s not any other tech at play here, that’s enough to put this backpack, which runs around $250 depending on where you buy it, on our list.

 Atmos AG
OspreyOsprey Atmos AG

Outdoor Tech Buckshot Pro: Flashlight, power bank, wireless speaker — these three items will just eat up space in your bag compared to Buckshot Pro, which not only has all these functions, but at $79 probably costs less than the rest combined. About the size of a Red Bull can, this rugged device can survive a tumble or a splash of water. Connecting to smartphones via Bluetooth, it has enough power to play 10 hours of music. Or by plugging into the juice via USB, it can charge an iPhone one and a half times, or a GoPro more than twice. The light is also versatile, with three modes (flashlight, lamp, and emergency beacon) showing you the way.

 Buckshot Pro
Outdoor TechOutdoor Tech Buckshot Pro

Petzl TIKKA RXP: You might think a head-lamp that comes loaded with its own operating system is overdoing it, but at $99.95 MSRP the price doesn’t show it. Designed to optimize the 215-lumen light’s reactive lighting technology, this software allows you to plug your lamp into a computer, tweak its beam patterns and lighting modes, and then survive the darkness without missing a thing. For instance, you can program it to dim and narrow when you look down at a map, but then brighten and flood when you look up at your surroundings. The water-resistant, 115 gram headset automatically adjusts brightness to get you the best battery life possible, lasting up to 12 hours. Let’s hope you’re not in the dark any longer than that.

PetzlPetzl TIKKA RXP

VSSL: If you’re hankering for the feel of old school technology, the flashlight form-factor of this range of survival gear will do more than scratch that itch. An aluminum tube topped with an LED light, this modern-day torch eschews big, bulky batteries, replacing them with small canisters full of life-saving stuff. So, for $105 you’ll get the LED, a compass, a first aid kit, a razor blade, water purification tabs, a wire saw, an emergency whistle, waterproof matches, fishing gear, and more. Refills vary in price, but are modest, starting at just $2 for a can opener.


Zippo Lantern: Best known for its flame-based products, Zippo recently released an LED lamp that’s every bit as useful as its iconic lighters. A big, light lantern that’s not afraid of the dark, this rugged lamp can take a tumble and keep glowing. It can even slip into the drink, and it floats, adding a new element to lake-side camping trips. The $89 light ($45 at Amazon) also has variable brightness settings, which helps make the battery stretch. At its maximum brightness, the rechargeable lithium-ion battery puts out an impressive 10 hours of luminosity; on the lowest-light setting, it can stay aglow for more than 40 hours. And the best part: no fuel required.

Zippo / Tom MartineauZippo Lantern

Correction: The original version of this article gave the incorrect price for the Petzl TIKKA RXP. It is $99.95 MSRP.

TIME Apple

4 Things Apple Just Announced That You Need to Know About

See what's new and what's updated

Out of the bevy of Apple’s announcements on Monday at this year’s developers conference, known as WWDC, four stood out the most: Apple Music, a more robust Siri, native Apple Watch apps and the News app.

Both Apple Music and the News app are new products rising from the ashes of old ones. Apple purchased Beats last year, and repurposed its streaming service into Apple Music; News is taking the place of the lackluster offering Newsstand. Siri and the Watch’s software are getting welcome updates to their capabilities.

Read next: See the 6 Coolest Things Apple Announced on Monday

TIME Apple

See the 6 Coolest Things Apple Announced At WWDC

It was a huge day for the company

  • 1. Apple Music


    A new streaming service to take on companies like Spotify.

  • 2. iOS 9


    New iPhone software that will make the smartphone more intelligent.

  • 3. OS X Yosemite

    Apple OS X El Capitan

    A new Mac update packed with features like a split-screen viewing mode.

  • 4. Native Apple Watch Apps


    Native apps are coming to the Apple Watch, which should make the device run faster.

  • 5. Apple’s News


    The Apple News app is finally replacing Newsstand for the journalism junkies among us.

  • 6. Apple Pay


    Apple is adding some retailers’ rewards points systems.

TIME Apple

See Everything Apple Announced Today in 2 Minutes

A new streaming service and more

Apple made several big announcements Monday at its 2015 Wordwide Developers Conference, including a new streaming service, a major iPhone software upgrade and improvements to the Apple Watch.

Check out the best of the event in under two minutes.

TIME Apple

Watch Drake Pitch Apple’s New Music Service

"Focus on your body of work"

Rapper and artist Drake said at an Apple event Monday that Apple Music, the company’s new streaming service, is a way for artists and their fans to interact better.

“Focus on your body of work,” he said. “Instead of having to post your stuff on these different and sometimes confusing places, it’s all in one place: and that is Connect.”

TIME coca-cola

You Won’t Believe What Coca-Cola Is Using to Make its Bottles

Coca-Cola Co. Prepares To Release Quarterly Earnings Numbers
Tom Pennington—Getty Images

An earlier version was released in 2009

Coca-Cola now makes some of its bottles entirely out of sugar cane, the company trumpeted recently at the Expo Milano food conference.

Called the PlantBottle, the packaging differs in that it’s derived from sugar cane, not petroleum.

“The first-ever fully recyclable PET plastic beverage bottle made partially from plants looks and functions just like traditional PET plastic, but has a lighter footprint on the planet and its scarce resources,” the company said in a release. The new technology accounts for 30% of the company’s packaging in North America and 7% globally, Coca-Cola said.

The packaging isn’t entirely new. A version was first released in 2009, but at that time it was 30% plant-based plastic, according to Business Insider. Now, it’s made from 100% plastic derived from sugar cane.

More: Read about Coca-Cola in the new Fortune 500 list

“To date, more than 35 billion PlantBottle packages have been distributed in nearly 40 countries,” said Coca-Cola in a statement. “The technology has enabled us to eliminate the potential for more than 315,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions—equivalent to the amount of carbon dioxide emitted from burning more than 743,000 barrels of oil—and save more than 36 million gallons of gas.”

TIME Apple

This Is Apple’s New Spotify Killer

A streaming service, radio station and social network in one

Apple unveiled a streaming music service on Monday to rival popular products from the likes of Spotify, which let users listen to songs without buying them outright. Dubbed simply Apple Music, the service will debut on June 30.

At its annual World Wide Developers Conference in San Fransciso, the world’s most valuable technology company showed off software that combines a variety of music-focused services. Apple Music will allow users to stream songs from the millions of tracks on iTunes. The firm also unveiled Beats One, a 24-hour streaming radio station curated by well-known DJs in New York City, Los Angeles and London. Connect, another feature, is a built-in social network intended to let musicians communicate with fans by previewing upcoming work, for example.

Apple Music will be free for three months and then cost $9.99 per month or $14.99 for families of up to six. Executives said it would be available in more than 100 countries at launch.

“Music is such an important part of our lives and our culture,” CEO Tim Cook said on stage before introducing the service. Cook took the wraps off Apple Music more than an hour and a half into the WWDC keynote presentation, saying he had “one more thing” in a nod to co-founder Steve Jobs’ favored keynote tactic. The presentation included comments from artists like rapper Drake about what the new service meant to them.

The company is hoping that it can convince millions of customers worldwide to change their habits around music, much the way it did more than a decade ago when it introduced the iPod. In 2003, Apple’s introduction of the iTunes Music Store turned downloading individual tracks into the most common way for consumers to purchase music. It also transformed iTunes into the world’s largest music retailer.

Monday’s announcement is a milestone for the burgeoning streaming industry. Many observers expect Apple’s entry into the market to push the technology into the mainstream from where it is today, popular mainly among early adopters. Apple may be able to push the hundreds of millions of iTunes customers — most with credit cards already registered on file — to swing for a subscription on the devices the already use to download songs and albums.

“I’m here because in 2003 the record industry was a state of confusion,” Apple executive Jimmy Iovine said on stage. “This giant invader from the north: technology,” he continued before comparing the current climate in streaming music to the pre-download era.

Though it has been available for years, streaming music still has a relatively small footprint. Some 41 million people globally now pay for streaming music from Spotify, Deezer and others, according to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry. The group says subscription revenue grew 39% last year to $1.6 billion, while overall download sales fell 8% to $3.6 billion.

Last year, Apple acquired headphonemaker and music-streaming service Beats for $3 billion last year. Data from royalty-tracking firm Audiam showed Beats Music had just 303,000 U.S. subscribers as of December. Market leader Spotify, by comparison, had 4.7 million in the U.S.

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