Music streaming still leaves a lot to be desired

by Volker Weber

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Yesterday was a big day for music streaming. Apple is going in big time. But what happens, when you have that music on your iPhone?

  1. You play it through your iPhone speakers. That's what most kids do.
  2. You plug in your earbuds. Now only you can listen. If you care enough, and most people do not, you get a decent pair of headphones. No, they don't come with a Beats logo.
  3. You connect to a Bluetooth speaker. There are decent ones out there. And even more decent ones. The problem is Bluetooth.
  4. If Bluetooth does not cut it, you use AirPlay. That runs over Wifi.

With all of these options, the stream goes over the Internet, through your router, over WiFi to your phone. And then it goes via Bluetooth to your speaker. Or in the case of AirPlay, it goes through WiFi to your router, and from there, again over WiFi to your speaker. That's three trips, if you are counting. That's a kludge. An ugly one. And there are better solutions:

The only company that has figured this out is Google. You can use their app, and you can cast to Googlecast devices. Or you can cast to Sonos. Although you are using Google Play Music on your Android, you can still play directly through any of your Sonos speakers. Without doing three hops through your network.

That only works on Android. Because, on iPhone you have AirPlay. Which Apple sells you as the only game in town.


I hate to say it, but you are right. I have Bluetooth with aptX, i have Airplay, but in the End, 3 of 4 Times i route the signal via USB-Wire (or Lightning-Port of iPhone/iPad) to my Creatve E5 DAC and from there to my Stereo Amp to a good Pair of Speakers. Best Sound, no Stuttering, no lag, no Compromises, just Wires...

Bernd Hofmann, 2015-06-09

While reading, I wanted to protest and say that you don't need the Sonos Controller as Google Play Music allows to cast to the Sonos speaker. Then I continued reading and felt silly. Of course you know that. :)

There's a reason why, even after buying an iPad mini 2 and finding it quite nice, I am still using my Android devices way more.

Daniel Haferkorn, 2015-06-09

What I don't understand: I see that streaming is appealing when I'm at home or at work, that means when I have stable, fast and flat internet.

But what if I'm outdoors? On travel with plane, train or car? Mostly I don't have a stable network then, and if, my mobile plan is limited to some GBs, which would be burned quite fast by music streaming.

And on vacation in foreign countries? Then I have no data plan at all, or some joke like 500MB or so.

Outdoors, on travel, on vacation - that's a lot of occasions where I want to hear music, but can't with streaming. So streaming looks like a very limited solution to me. Or do I overlook something?

Julian Buss, 2015-06-10

All of those services have "offline" options. You have access to all the music in their catalog while you pay for the service. And you can cache whatever you want on your device. It's a win-win. They have a constant revenue stream, and you can play what you want. Online or offline.

Volker Weber, 2015-06-10

Im am wondering Volker - Youtube on my iOS devices shows the same Googlecast symbol as on your left screenshot and let me choose e.g. our TV for playback. Contrary to the "Google Play Music" - which does not have such a function.

So I think it is not an iOS "problem" but an APP-software issue.

Bernd Schuster, 2015-06-10

But they are crippled. I have many more devices than Spotify supports and don't get me started on Netflix, that I can barely use when traveling.

Mariano Kamp, 2015-06-10

Tell me about "many devices". ;-)

Volker Weber, 2015-06-10

Maybe more of an Apple problem, Bernd?

Volker Weber, 2015-06-10

@Volker: This is what I meant - Apple does not include this feature in their app - but other apps could do it also on iOS.

Bernd Schuster, 2015-06-10

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