Spotify for iPhone - Spotify for iPhone

Andy Vandervell

By Andy Vandervell



Our Score:


Finding and adding music to playlists using the mobile application is largely very easy too, though not without its problems. Sitting next to the 'Playlist' tab is the 'Search' tab. A text box at the top works in the customary manner, though it's worth noting the on-screen keyboard only works in portrait mode. Searches are neatly separated into 'Tracks', 'Albums' and 'Artists' tabs. Selecting a track will instantly start it streaming, selecting an album shows the track listing and options to 'Add to playlist' or 'Shuffle', while selecting an artist will display a list divided by albums and singles.

This is all very slick but there's one massive oversight in the iPhone application: you can only add tracks or albums to an existing playlist. This is particularly irritating if you just want to add a whole album, since you have to create a playlist for it and then add the album's tracks to it. In the desktop version, you can just drag the album to your playlists to create it. Another issue is that, unless the previous screen you were looking at was the playlist - in which case you can hit the 'back' button - there's no quick and easy way to view the whole playlist you're listening to without heading back to the playlist menu.

So even though the barebones of the application have been thought through well, these issues highlight that there's a little way to go before the app provides a refined and mature experience.

No real complaints can be made of the basic playback menus, however. While differing slightly to Apple's own iPod controls, the 'Now Playing' screen is arranged intelligently, with playback controls and the progress bar along the bottom, and album art dominating the middle. Hitting the middle of the screen, or the info button in the top right, will bring up alternative controls, including 'Repeat' and 'Shuffle', a volume slider, additional artist information (e.g. album, artist) and an 'Add to playlist' button. You can also change tracks by sliding your finger left and right.

All of which covers the core of the desktop application functionality, but there are plenty of things that haven't made the transition, such as the artist information provided by all music, recommended artists, or artist radios - all of which are missed, even if their implementations in the desktop version are far from perfect.

Clearly of greater importance, though, is the fact the iPhone version of Spotify can't run in the background. As most of you will know this isn't Spotify's fault; Apple decrees it this way, but it clearly restricts things somewhat. Spotify does at least handle this problem well, with playback continuing where you left off if you have leave the app. On Android handsets, of course, no such issue exists, making it the best platform to enjoy the service right now.


September 15, 2009, 3:54 pm

While I'd agree that Spotify for iPhone (or in my case iPod Touch)has a few rough edges, I can't help feeling that your review is a little grudging. It's pretty good value when you think what else it's possible to fritter away a tenner a month on, and I find the idea that I can knock myself up a playlist in minutes for offline listening quite mindblowing.

Incidentally, anybody with a 1st gen Touch might like to know that the maximum volume is set way too low - and of course there's no non-software volume control. The workround, kindly supplied by a Spotify wallah, is to fire up the YouTube app and ramp the volume up on that. Higher volume then transfers to Spotify somehow - takes a bit of trial and error to get it right, but it works.


September 15, 2009, 4:59 pm

I can't help but feel that if you already have a decent music collection then surely it would just be easier and cheaper to load that to your iPhone/Pod. As such £9.99 still feels very expensive to me. If you have zero music already, then I could see the appeal. Also, music I like I play on other formats (round the house, in the car, etc) where Spotify would be awkward to use, so I would still end up buying the music anyway.

I like the PC free version of Spotify but the subscription model doesn't work for me. If it included the ability to download high quality MP3's as well for "offline" use then maybe it would be worth considering.


September 15, 2009, 6:00 pm

Steve - I have to say I think you're taking a rather black and white view of this. I have a large music collection (some would say too large), but the world is still full of music I don't own, have no particular interest in buying but am still interested in listening to. I play my music collection in all the traditional ways according to mood and circumstance (and my Touch doesn't have room for even a tenth of it anyway), but Spotify is a great way of checking stuff out, making unexpected discoveries, having a random Van Morrison morning at my desk that I didn't know I was going to have when I was at home, etc. It really is like having your own radio station with no annoying gits yelling in your ear (unless that sounds like Van Morrison to you). Worth every penny of £9.99 IMHO. You pays your money...


September 15, 2009, 8:09 pm

MikeP - That is exactly what I use Spotify for - checking out stuff, etc. It's great for that. I just don't think it is worth paying £9.99 for. But as you say, you pays your money...


September 15, 2009, 10:57 pm

Spotify is just so overhyped by the tech press. Yes it is great as a free service on your PC. But I'd be surprised if more than 1% of users paid the subscription.


September 16, 2009, 2:35 pm

Wouldn't pay a tenner a month for it personally.

Can't any phone with a decent browser and connection use the ad-supported instead for free?


September 18, 2009, 1:16 pm

I ditched Napster for Spotify purely for this app and heres my tuppence worth.

I dont want this to turn into a "my dads harder than your dad" type argument but I own 500 or so albums and still find a great use out of subs based music. Spotify also provides me with a way of ultimately saving money by being able to listen to whole albums on the iPhone (or pc) before taking the plunge. I spend a fortune on physical cd purchases, always have and always will and to me it is great being able to save some pennies. Not to mention a great way to have a "jukebox" for house parties - I dont own and never wish to own 90% of the UK charts but its handy for the girlfriend and her mates for example.

There are some issues with the app though (in my opinion):

1. I like the desktops artist radio (when available) as well as some of the other info you get.

2. Surely future versions could utlise a home page type thing on boot up? Could show recommendations, whats new, etc

3. Also, I regularly commute through an area that drops out of the 3g network for large periods, not to mention O2s occasional network issues and I would like to have seen some sort of way of queuing searches - it could work in a similar fashion to safaris use of multiple internet windows. My reason for this is during the 1 week or so I have used it I can think of dozens of times I ultimately forgotten what Im wanting to look for because I can only search one at a time and only when connected.

4. Adding tracks to playlists via app isnt very intuitive. I often find the quickest way is to interrupt what you are listening to to get an individual track onto an existing playlist.

My other problems concern Spotify in general. The shuffle function is nowhere near iTunes standard (lost count of the times a track has been repated before every playlist track has been played). Also, recommendations arent quite up to speed or extensive enough yet but this is something that comes over time.

Apologies for the lengthy comment and I know its mostly gibberish but in short the app does feel a little rushed but Id expect some big changes in future updates via user feedback.


September 18, 2009, 1:20 pm

Oh, and Id like to add that the catalogue sizes between Napster and Spotify was a big concern of mine but of all the 80s-00s searches my girlfriend and I did (mostly indie, electronic, and cheesey guff) it was very rare to find tracks that were not on both. The only track of the top of my head was Pure Imagination from the Willy Wonka soundtrack! (which I couldnt find on Spotify)

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