Despite being a bit of a music nerd, I’ve only just given in and signed up to Spotify. Or maybe it’s because I’m a bit of a music nerd that I’ve only just given in and signed up to Spotify – CDs being infinitely better with their inlays and their physical form and what not. Or so the argument goes.
Anyway, yes, I’ve been using Spotify on the iPhone and iPad over the past few weeks - in my flat, out and about, on a series of flights... Let’s take a closer look.
Just to be clear, what I’m reviewing here are the iPhone and iPad Spotify apps; for my money, there’s no question that the service is a solid 5/5. Being able to listen to almost anything on a whim, for just £9.99 per month (there's a free option for iPhone and iPad, too), is incredible value for money.
As for the apps? Well, er, they're not so impressive. Incidentally, Spotify on the App Store has just hit version 1.0.0, despite being available for almost two years. Maybe it’s because they heard I’d signed up, me being a journalistic powerhouse and all (shut it).
To be fair, the question for the Spotify app developers is: How do we present almost all the world’s music in an easy-to-use format? A daunting task indeed.
Before I start tearing the iOS Spotify apps to bits, they're actually not entirely terrible, just a tad cluttered, and occasionally incredibly confusing. Intuitive? I’m afraid not.
For example, how do I listen to a Spotify album offline? Navigate to the album in question > tap the little dots in the top right > choose Save (this seems to be a new option; previously I would’ve used Add to Playlist) > tap Back > tap Back again > tap the three lines in the top left > choose Your Music > tap Albums > tap the album in question > tap Available Offline. The album will now download.
Dear Spotify, why can’t I simply navigate to the album and choose instantly to make it available offline? Personally, I’m mostly using Spotify when I’m out and about, and I only have 500MB to play with each month, so I’m mostly offline.
Now, let’s say I’m looking at this offline album: How can I tell how long an offline Spotify album lasts? Obviously (ahem), you pull down to reveal a hidden screen with the album cover then swipe left.
Actually, I’ve only just realised that’s only an option when you’ve created a playlist (as opposed to saving). Good lord.
Conversely, from saved content, you can choose to ‘Go to Artist’, but there’s no such option within playlists. Man, I give up.
I’m sure you get the idea by now. To make matters worse, there’s a strange lack of synergy between the iPhone and iPad versions. The option to save music doesn’t seem to exist on the iPad yet, and the tablet navigation is arguably even worse with its sliding panels.
And band biographies seem to be a priority on the iPad, while they’re shoved right down at the bottom on the iPhone. Weird.
Again, Spotify service: superb. Spotify apps: baffling.
- Spotify is great
- Listen to stuff offline
- The app is free, I guess
- Seriously unintuitive
- Lack of synergy between iPhone and iPad
- Those panels on the iPad
Summary: As a service, Spotify is arguably one of the best ways to spend a monthly tenner. Conversely, as an app on the iPhone and iPad, Spotify is one of the most baffling and unintuitive things you’re likely to encounter. Should seriously come with an instruction manual.
Price: free @ App Store
Compatibility: Requires iOS 6.0 or later. Compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. This app is optimized for iPhone 5.