Spotify for iPhone - Spotify for iPhone

Andy Vandervell

By Andy Vandervell

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

7

Not being able to run in the background is clearly a problem for the iPhone application, but there are more fundamental issues that really need addressing in all versions of Spotify before it becomes a service not just the hardcore fans will be willing to pay to use.

As great as its playlist system is for promoting collaboration and sharing of lists, as a way to organise a music collection it's distinctly old hat. And, let's face it, when you start paying £9.99 a month for a service, you ultimately want it to be your primary avenue for enjoying music, not just the backup you go to when you don't have what you want in your own collection.

There are one or two other problems you're bound to come up against, too. For instance, efficient though the caching system for offline music is, nowhere can you find out exactly how much space that music is taking up. It's this and the one or two other idiosyncrasies that ultimately lend the iPhone application a slightly 'beta'-like feel, which admittedly is true of the service as a whole. There's also the music library to consider. It's very impressive in scope and variety, but still stops someway short of being comprehensive, and Napster (for one) still has it beaten here.

Thus, while its current shortcomings and limitations are totally forgivable when using the free ad-supported desktop version, when paying £10 a month for mobile access (or ad-free desktop use for that matter) there's still a way to go yet. That isn't to say the mobile app should be free to use, it's ultimately great value if you use it extensively enough, but some work needs to be done before it's practical (and desirable) for the majority to do so.

Verdict

Anyone who is already totally addicted to Spotify but hasn't subscribed may well find the Spotify iPhone app (or Android counterpart) the nudge they require. However, despite its vast promise, we're not totally convinced that the mobile application and service combined justify a £10 subscription yet. This is another important step in the road, but there's still a long way to go before Spotify fulfils its true potential.

Overall Score

7

MikeP

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.

Guest

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.

MikeP

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...

Guest

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...

rav

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.

SweetFA

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 We7.com instead for free?

Jones

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.

Jones

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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