Sony’s Music Unlimited streaming music platform has been around for some time now, and its presence most recently spread to iOS in May. Having the service available on the iPhone and iPad is great — and a departure from Sony’s typical walled garden approach — but you might want to know that the iOS app differs a fair bit from the Android one.
The first thing that stood out to me about this app is that it benefits greatly from the extra screen real estate Android phones offer. Since Sony tries to simplify the overall library of 15 million songs by offering different lists based on channels that focus on charts, genres, eras and even music based on your mood. In many cases, I find iOS apps tend to look a little better than their Android counterparts, but Music Unlimited is one where it’s definitely the other way around.
The biggest difference between the two, of course, is that you get offline playback on Android. When you don’t want to stream tracks using your phone’s data plan, this could come in real handy. And the beauty of it is that you can choose what you want to access offline by playlist. So, for example, if you have a playlist you like to listen to when going to the gym and you’d rather not use data for it, you could easily do it by going to Playlists, tapping the + symbol on the side and then turning on “Available Offline”.
The app will then download a cached version of the playlist to your phone where you can listen to it whenever you want, even without 3G or Wi-Fi. You won’t find this feature on the iOS app, and Sony has not revealed when, or if, they’ll include it in a future update.
Another oddity is that Sony makes it difficult to sign up for an account using the iOS app, whereas it’s much simpler on Android. And if that wasn’t enough, the Android app is just more stable than the iOS one. I had it crashing on me for no apparent reason. And on one occasion, it signed me out after only 15 minutes of inactivity.
Audio quality for both is pretty much the same, so there is no real difference in bitrate on either side. Searching for artists or songs is the same on both, though the Android app has a better menu interface because it’s so readily accessible. The Settings are also markedly different. On Android, you can control whether explicit content is shown, whether you would allow the app to play on 3G/LTE and you can even remove your whole Sony Entertainment online account. There are also some options for offline music as well. On iOS, aside from streaming over 3G and explicit content permission, there is nothing else to manage in Settings.
But perhaps the key is that the 15 million tracks are equally available on both platforms, provided that you have a Premium subscription that costs $9.99 per month.
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