Just this week, Apple released a beta version of an Apple Music web player. This website will most likely be a replacement for iTunes on Windows. But I don’t use Windows. So why do I care?
iTunes (now Music) is one of the few apps, I always keep open on my Mac. Ever since macOS Sierra, I’ve been having a lot of performance problems with the native macOS client. Even though this website is in beta right now, I still wanted to compare the performance of the native client to the web app in some very basic categories1.
|Category||Music on macOS||Music Web Beta|
|Launch to Play||10.1 sec||5.5 sec|
|Switching to "For You"||4.1 sec||4.2 sec|
|Play song||0.5 sec||2.4 sec|
|Skipping within a song||instant||noticeable delay|
Music on macOS is slow. It still has all of the baggage from iTunes and isn’t nearly as responsive as Music on iOS. What surprised me the most, was how long it took to launch. A reason for this might be, that Music still has to load my cloud library every time. This gets annoying quickly.
Ram usage was about the same when in use, showing how inefficient the Mac client really is. On the other hand, the Cocoa (probably also Carbon and WebKit) client on the Mac was able to save on memory when not in use. For most people though, the 50-megabyte difference won’t be noticeable.
I wasn’t yet able to test battery life with the two music clients. If you have all of your music downloaded right now, the web app will most likely consume more of your battery life. If you stream music through the Music app for macOS right now, energy usage should be about the same.
What have we learned?
First of all, the Mac client is extremely inefficient. I’m very surprised at how much memory it uses and how long it actually takes to launch.
Secondly, when done right, web apps can be just as responsive and efficient as native ones. Many people criticize companies for only offering a slow web site. This isn’t necessarily the fault of the technology, but instead the result of bad programming practices.
Thirdly, even though it’s still in beta, the Apple Music web app is very capable. On my Mac, I’ll continue to use the native client, but on every other platform, I’ll start using the Apple Music website. No more Spotify account just for listening to music on Linux
1 All tests were carried out a MacBook connected to ethernet without any other open apps. The browser I used was Safari 13 on macOS Catalina. The Music app is on version Version 18.104.22.1688. All of the music played for these tests was stored in the cloud. Not downloaded.