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The Spotify redesign is a mess

OPINION: Spotify showcased its redesigned mobile app in early March and the update has now rolled out to my iPhone – upon first impression, it seems like a bit of a mess.

When Spotify first detailed the update, I can’t say I was full of enthusiasm. The TikTok and Instagram-inspired feed of auto-playing music and recommendations looked immediately tiresome, while the even greater focus on aspects of the app not connected to music, like audiobooks and podcasts, was arguably the opposite of what drew me to Spotify in the first place.

Still, I was willing to give it a go and try it out, considering Spotify has pretty much been my sole way of consuming music since it launched in the UK all the way back in 2009.

After a couple of days of using the updated app though, my initial fears have almost all come true. The auto-playing, social-network wannabe Home feed is a mess.

Like Instagram or TikTok, the updated Home section of the Spotify app is now a scrolling feed of content you can endlessly (and aimlessly) flip through. Instead of static artwork, there are now more interactive elements, living artwork and auto-playing music as you scroll down, and everything from recommended albums to playlists gets thrown into the mix.

While it certainly feels more alive than before, it’s also so much harder to quickly find something to listen to. Whereas before you might have seen 5-10 albums or playlists at a glance, you now only see one thing. That means it could take 10 swipes to see what you would have previously seen instantly.

There also seems to be far less of a focus on playlists in the rejigged homescreen, with albums instead taking priority. Most of the albums Spotify has been showing me here since my app updated have been ones I’ve recently listened to, rather than highlighting recommendations I might prefer. I used to love how each day the Spotify app would throw up a load of playlist suggestions as soon as I opened up the app and I could be listening to something within seconds – that’s no longer the case.

I also can’t stand that as you scroll through this feed, things randomly autoplay with the sound blaring out. You can mute them by clicking the small audio icon but the app doesn’t seem to remember that input for too long and a few hours later, it’s back at full blast.

I might be in the minority here, but I also really dislike how Spotify is moving away from focusing on music. Podcasts and audiobooks are now built deeper into the app than before, with random sections of podcasts I don’t subscribe to playing as I scroll. There’s more autoplaying if you enter the dedicated Audiobook and Podcasts sections and it seems that everywhere I tap in this updated app causes something else to autoplay unexpectedly.

There’s also absolutely no way to remove mention of podcasts and audiobooks. I listen to hours of both every week – just through far superior apps and services – but have none of either in my Spotify library and it still tries to force them on me. What makes the situation worse is that you can’t even buy audiobooks through the app – it just tells you to go off to the Spotify website to buy anything that catches your attention. The user experience is horrendous.

Compared to Apple’s approach where podcasts, books and music are all separated into very distinct apps you can easily ignore, this single-app method that Spotify now uses is just too busy.

Just like my colleague Kob, I am not one of those people constantly bemoaning Spotify for its lack of movement on its long-awaited Hi-Fi tier and I can somewhat understand why it has taken inspiration from other apps for this update. TikTok’s feed is ridiculously popular and very addictive, but it simply doesn’t work in an app where I want to be interacting with it for the shortest amount of time possible.

My biggest disappointment is really in myself. I know that I am not going to cancel Spotify and move across to a rival service like Apple Music or Tidal. I’ve used Spotify for too long, it knows my tastes too well and I think the playlists it offers are the best in the business. I also still love its constantly updating live playlists, like On Repeat and Time Capsule, and have yet to see these replicated well elsewhere.

Instead, I know I will stick with Spotify and bemoan this terrible redesign each time I use it.

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