Monthly Archives: May 2017

Music Streaming Services: Apple Music Vs Google Music Vs Spotify

The way we access music has changed. A few decades ago, having a large audio collection meant you needed considerable storage space and not the kind you measure in GBs. You needed square feet or square inches to store cassettes and records. Music has since been digitized. Your music exists in small files that you can store on affordable disks with room to spare. Where you buy music, and how it’s distributed has changed. Online subscription services now give you access to thousands of tracks and it’s a very competitive space. Three of the biggest services operating in this niche are Apple Music, Google Music, and Spotify. Here’s a comparative look at all three services to help determine which is the best.


Music subscription services and video streaming services have one thing in common; licensing agreements. These agreements decide which countries music can be licensed to. As such, they apply geographical restrictions that music streaming services have to comply with to avoid a lawsuit.


Apple Music has a three month free trial period. After that, you can upgrade to one of three plans.

  • Individual Plan: $9.99/month which gives you the full Apple Music experience
  • Family Plan: $14.99/month for six family members
  • Student Plan: $4.99/month but you have to be able to prove you’re a student

Google Music isn’t just a music streaming service. It’s also a music library. If you already have a large music library, you can upload it to Google Music and listen to it anywhere for free. For access to music outside your library, you have to subscribe to the service. There are two plans available;

  • Free Plan: $0/month to access your own music library, and listen to the radio with ads.
  • Individual Plan: $9.99/month for access to the entire Google Music library
  • Family Plan: $17.99/month for six family members to access the full Google Music Library

Spotify has a free plan and a premium subscription.

  • Free Plan: $0/month to access songs and listen to the radio with ads
  • Premium Plan: $9.99/month
  • Family Plan: $14.99/month for six family members
  • Student Plan: 50% discount on the premium plan

Winner: The paid subscriptions for all three services cost the same. Spotify and Google Music have a free plan while Apple Music doesn’t. Google Music’s free plan and Spotify’s free plan are both on-par with each other in terms of cost so it’s a tie between the two.

Geographical Limitations

As stated earlier, music streaming services are limited by region. You may be able to afford a streaming service, and you might love the music selection a service has to offer but you can’t buy a subscription if the service isn’t available in your country. You can use a VPN to access the services that have free a version which, in this case, is Spotify.

All three services, Apple Music, Google Music, and Spotify have geographical restrictions.

Apple Music is available in 115 countries.

Google Music is available in 63 countries.

Spotify is available in 60 countries.

Winner: Apple Music is available in more countries.


Content-wise, none of these three services are lacking. Apple Music did have a brief disagreement with Taylor Swift and she withheld her music from them for a while but the matter was resolved.

New Music

Apple Music and Spotify get the latest music but Apple Music does enforce an Apple Exclusive deal with some labels. This restricts the music so that other streaming services won’t get it for quite a while. Spotify has something similar in place while Google Play doesn’t.

If we’re being real, unless it’s a very popular song, you won’t miss anything. Of course, Google Music is the one that’s going to be left out. Between Apple Music and Spotify making content exclusive, Google Music will get it after everyone else does.

Sound Quality

Sound quality in the digital age is measured in bit-rates. The higher the bit-rate, the better the sound quality.

Apple Music streams music at 256kbps.

Spotify streams music at 320kbps for premium members, and at 160kbps for free users.

Google Music streams music as high as 320kbps but will scale it down if your internet is slow.

Winner: Spotify is the clear winner here with a bit-rate of 320kbps for its premium users.

Apps & APIs

Official Apps

Apple Music: Apple Music works via iTunes on macOS and Windows. On iOS, it works via the Music app. On Android, there is a dedicated Apple Music app. Apple Music doesn’t have a web interface.

Google Music: Google Music doesn’t have an official desktop app. It works in your web browser. It has dedicated apps for both iOS and Android.

Spotify: Spotify has dedicated apps for macOS, Windows, iOS, and Android. It also has a web interface that you can use.

Winner: Spotify is the clear winner here.

Third-Party Apps

In order for developers to make apps for either one of these services, their API must be open. Apple Music, Google Music, and Spotify all have open APIs that allow developers to create their own apps.

Third-party Apple Music apps are developed for iOS. Both desktop users and Android users have little to no alternatives to the official apps.

Third-party Google Music apps are rare. The few that function on an Android device require root access. There is neat open-source Google Music desktop player app available for macOS, Windows, and Linux. It’s a great app but there isn’t much else available besides this.

Spotify rules when it comes to third-party apps. There are a number of desktop apps available for macOS as well as for other platforms. Additionally, apps are developed as add-ons for the official Spotify app. If you’re unhappy with the official app, you’re spoiled for choice.

Winner: Spotify by a mile.

Music Suggestions & Discovery

Music suggestions and discovery depend on two things; how well a service learns your taste in music, and how often it finds new music for you that you actually like. There’s no way to quantify how often any service finds good music for its users. What we can examine is how a service learns what you like.

Apple Music: When you first sign up for Apple Music, it asks you to select your favorite genres. You give it a sense of the kind of music you like and this helps the service eliminate genres that don’t interest you. After that, Apple Music learns your taste. You can favorite songs to help it further understand your taste.

All this culminates into a ‘For You’ section that features suggested music you might like. You get a fresh list everyday so you’re never going to be starved for new stuff. Whether or not it’s accurate is going to depend on your own personal experience.

Google Music: Google Music asks you to select your favorite genres when you sign up. This is a very standard approach to learning your music tastes. It also examines the songs in your library. Google Music’s radio stations offer reasonably good suggestions though the best ones are in the ‘I’m feeling lucky’ station.

Spotify: Spotify suggests music in two different ways. It has playlists that show you trending music around the world. If you don’t like what’s trending, the weekly discover playlist is another option. This playlist is built around your own tastes instead of what is popular. You will likely find great suggestions in this particular playlist.

Final Winner:

Spotify comes out on top. Cost-wise, these services don’t have any edge over the other. Apple Music actually misses out on audio quality to Spotify and Google Music seems like a work-in-progress compared to the other two. Spotify may not have a large name like Apple or Google behind it but it is a major competitor for these giants, and for good reason.

How To Add Tilt Shift Effect To Photos On Your iPhone

Every year when a new iPhone is announced, the camera gets a major update. Both the hardware and the software are improved exponentially. The camera on an iPhone is one of the most powerful you will find on a smartphone today. It’s a feature that Apple works diligently to improve every year. It might surprise you to learn that, despite all the attention given to the camera, it wasn’t until the iPhone 7 Plus that it could capture depth of field. This is accomplished via two cameras on the 7 Plus. Android on the other hand, accomplishes something similar with Google Camera’s blur effect. There is no iOS app that works as well as the Google Camera app. There are however ways to fake it. Glass Tilt Shift is an iOS app worth $2.99 that lets you add tilt shift effect to your photos.

To be clear, there are quite a few apps that let you add a depth of field or tilt shift effect to your photos. What sets one app apart from the other is how well it works. Most apps offer a poor mimicry of the DOF effect but Glass Tilt Shift gives you manual control over which areas you focus.

Install the app. You can only add tilt shift effect to photos after you’ve taken them. You can use the app to capture a photo but the effect will be added afterwards.

Tap the capture button on the app’s home screen. You can select a photo from your camera roll or take one live. Once you have the photo, you can crop and straighten it before you add tilt shift effect to it. The effect is applied by determining the ‘blur’ area, and the ‘focus’ point. The blurred area is what will be out of focus. By default, the first tilt effect is selected.

Applying the effect takes a little getting used to. When you open an image, you see a crosshair in the middle. Drag it outward with one finger and the circle around the crosshair will separate. Drag the circle out to the part you want to blur.

Next, use two fingers to move the crosshair. Move it to the part of the area you want to focus on in your image. If you want more blur, use one of the other tilt effects i.e., Tilt 2 or Tilt 3. The tilt effect is accompanied by a glow that you can reduce to zero if you don’t like it.

When the effect looks good, tap the export button at the top right and save the image to your camera roll or upload it to Instagram.

Download Glass Tilt Shift From The App Store

Use This App To Diagnose Car Noise And Find Out What’s Wrong

In many countries, owning a personal car is a necessity. Cars come with instruction manuals but they’re really meant to help with routine maintenance. If you don’t know what’s under the hood of your car, the manual is a good place to begin learning. That said, the manual isn’t going to help you much with car maintenance. That’s something you learn over time. The basics include knowing when and how to change your tires, when and how to change the oil, and how to jump start a car, among other things. It doesn’t take too long to get the hang of it. What’s not as easy to learn is what certain problematic sounds coming from your car mean. You could describe the sound to your mechanic and they can maybe figure out the cause. Alternatively, you can diagnose car noise with My Car Makes Noise.

My Car Makes Noise is a library of car noises. The website sorts sounds by location i.e. where is the sound coming from. The sound can come from under the hood, under the car, or from outside the car. If you’re not sure where the sound is coming from, you can listen to the entire sound library.

If you know where the sound is coming from, i.e from under the hood or outside the car select the sound library for it. The library divides the sounds into different problem areas. The ‘Under the car’ section contains three other sub-sections; Noise of Suspension, Brake and Wheel Noises, and Exhaust System Noises. Expand each section and click the different sounds listed.

Each sound has a diagnosis right under it. For example, the sound your car makes when there is a problem with the battery e.g. it’s dying, is labelled as such.

You need to be slightly familiar with the correct name for car parts to understand the diagnosis. A quick Google search will help you out.

My Car Makes Noise is a good place to diagnose car noise. You can perhaps even share it with your mechanic. What you shouldn’t do is try and fix the problem yourself. You should also listen to what your mechanic says. The sound library serves as a general guide but your mechanic is looking at your car and can still diagnose it more accurately. My Car Makes Noise can point you in the general direction of the problem but your mechanic is the car doctor.

You can submit your own sounds to My Car Makes Noise. If you decide to contribute to the website, make sure you get an accurate diagnosis for the sound you’re submitting.

Visit My Car Makes Noise 

How To Stop iTunes Opening When An iPhone Is Connected [Windows]

If you own an iPhone, iTunes is an essential app for you. You may or may not like it but you need it. If nothing else, iTunes can back up and restore everything on your iPhone. You might never user it to sync music or pay your subscriptions but you will use it to take backups. That said, once you install iTunes, it will open every single time you connect your iPhone or iPad to your PC. It will take a fresh backup of all your data. iTunes doesn’t check how recent the last backup was. It may only be a few hours old and iTunes will still take a new backup. You can cancel it, or close iTunes right away once it opens but it’s annoying. Here’s how you can stop iTunes opening when you connect an iPhone or iPad to your PC.

When you install iTunes, a few additional services are installed with it. One of these services is called ‘iTunesHelper’. When you install iTunes, there is no sign of this service being installed and it’s automatically added to your Startup folder. It’s what forces iTunes to open when you connect an iPhone.

Disabling it is pretty easy, especially if you’re on Windows 10. Open the Task Manager and go to the Startup tab. Look for the iTunesHelper app. Right-click it and select ‘Disable’ from the context menu to stop iTunes opening when you connect an iPhone.

This same service is responsible for iTunes opening on older versions of Windows. The Task Manager in Windows 8.1 has a Startup tab so this will work if you’re still using Windows 8.1.

Disabling iTunesHelper in Windows 7 is pretty easy. The only difference is you can’t do it from the Task Manager. Open the run dialogue box via the Win+R keyboard shortcut. In the box, type ‘msconfig’, and tap Enter. This will open the System Configuration window. This window is divided into several tabs, one of which is ‘Startup’. Go to the ‘Startup’ tab, look for iTunesHelper and disable it.

Disabling iTunes Helper won’t impact anything else. It’s the quickest way to stop iTunes opening when you connect an iPhone or iPad. You can just as easily enable it again if you need to. If you already have iTunes running and you connect your iPhone, it will start to back it up. Disabling iTunes Helper doesn’t stop the auto-sync feature. It only stops iTunes from opening when you don’t need it to.

It goes without saying there should be an easier way to do this. iTunes adds a service to the Startup folder and doesn’t even explicitly ask for the user’s permission.

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