Droidify – Spotify on Android

While on holiday in the sun, word gets through that what I’ve been waiting for for months and months has finally happened: the Google Android App Store has a Spotify client to download. Surprisingly though this is not the official app (an early version of which was demoed by Spotify months ago) – it’s an unofficial version called Droidify.

Despite being abroad and subject to T-Mobile’s disgraceful download charges (£1.50 per Mb!), I downloaded Droidify to my G1 to check it out. And boy am I glad I did. Suddenly I’m sitting in the baking sun by the swimming pool, sipping rum & Coca-Cola, and now I have 4 million tracks at my fingertips!

Droidify requires a premium account to login, but luckily I’d gone premium with Spotify a while ago in anticipation of an app like this. There’s a known bug with the login screen but after a couple of attempts I was in and soon presented with a list of all my Spotify playlists. I selected a track and within seconds the album art was displayed and the music started – awesome!

Droidify lets you play any track that’s available on Spotify. It has options to search, view your playlists, view the play queue, and settings to define the cache limit (defaults to 512 MB) and enable the media button and use of cached playlists. The caching works well but it falls short of the expected offline mode in the official app. When a song is playing you can long-press the album art for options to Open Artist, Open Album, or Add Track to Playlist. From the artist or album view there’s an Info button to give you the artist biography or review of the album. Albums are listed in the same order as in the Spotify client (i.e. newest first, then singles, then compilations). Select another track and it starts playing in seconds. From a playlist view you also have the option to create a new playlist or jump back to Now Playing.

Droidify has a few bugs and glitches, but on the whole it works remarkably well. It seems to do everything the official apps are expected to except for offline syncing. And you need to have a Spotify Premium account to use Droidify, so Spotify must love it. Except they don’t.

Despite many Android users seeing this app then instantly purchasing Spotify premium, Spotify wanted it taken down. Within a day of it appearing (and after up to 5,000 downloads), developer Bobcat Zed had removed it from the App Store with the following message:

“Droidify was an unofficial Spotify client for Android.

Due to the fact that this unofficial app violates Spotify’s agreements with the music labels, Spotify and I have agreed on that I remove the app.

Otherwise consequences could be that the labels will remove their music from Spotify, which would be a loss for us all.”

Spotify mobile developer GustavS followed up with this tweet:

“Want to apologize to all who went premium for Droidify. Please bear with us. Working HARD on getting an official client out to you.”

Bobcat Zed replied with:

“So there will be no future updates to Droidify (Even though a bugfix for the login crash was in the pipeline)”

Why would Spotify kill a source of revenue like this? We now know that Spotify is part-owned by the major record labels. Is this the first case of Spotify’s record label lawyers flexing their muscles to squash any 3rd-party development? We also know that Spotify’s iPhone app is with Apple for approval. Apple will want Spotify because people will buy iPhones to get it (remember Apple is a hardware company who don’t really make that much from iTunes alone), so having it on Google Android is obvious competition. Apple may be more inclined to approve the Spotify app if it’s exclusive to their platform (or at least not lagging behind an existing version on Android).

The mobile apps are the biggest release from Spotify ever and a lot is riding on their success. Spotify may want to retain absolute control (just look at the terms and conditions of their restrictive programming interface) and release the iPhone and Android apps together for maximum impact (and to reduce any perceived favouritism). Personally I think the official Android app has been ready for some time (unless it’s been considerably rewritten since the demo) but we must wait for the Word of Apple before it is released on both iPhone and Android together.

If you were one of the lucky ones who managed to get a copy of Droidify before it was pulled, rest assured that it still works provided you retain a premium Spotify account. But whether using this app breaks your T&Cs with Spotify remains to be seen…

Of course, as Bobcat Zed points out nothing can be deleted from the Internet. Just ask Barbara Streisand. And one of the advantages Android has over iPhone is that you can download and install apps from any website, not just the App Store, and without the need to root or jailbreak your phone. I’m not giving out copies of the apk file, so don’t ask me. Try Google 😉 

  • This post was written on an offline Asus Eee PC, transfered to G1 via microSD card, then posted via 3G here in sunny Portugal from my Google phone (so please excuse typos!)

  • Fad

    Spotify is part-owned by the major record labels? Are any of them associated with the RIAA?

  • Hellberg

    What I’d really like to know is why Spotify instantly wanted Droidify removed, yet there has been no reports whatsoever about Spotify trying to stop the developer behind the unofficial iPhone app (Spot) from distrubuting his app to iPhone users via Cydia etc. If labels really were concerned about 3rd party mobile apps, there should be absolutely no difference between the two.

    This makes it seem that Spotify isn’t trying to please the record labels in this matter, only that they’re trying to please Apple to get the official app approved by not letting any other mobile platform get any kind of Spotify app before the iPhone.

    I hope I’m wrong though, and that Spotify has indeed tried to get Spot removed (but for some reason failed). I’m just sick and tired of everyone (almost) kissing Apples a**, despite their often questionable business methods..

  • Earlier, Spotify has said that they wont bother the creation of 3rd party apps since they force the users to buy the Premium service anyhow. I mean, the only negative thing with a 3rd party app should be the lacking functionality which may cause the brand name to fall in reputation?

  • Fad, yes about 18% of Spotify is owned by the “big four” record labels, all of whom are deeply involved with the RIAA.

    Good points Hellberg and Elias… perhaps the Spot developers just weren’t as er persuadable as the Droidify developer?

  • I’m just speculating now, but I know some of the employees at spotify are friends with the guys behind Spot. That may be the reason why they didn’t shut down Spot? I spoke to a friend (who has a high position on Spotify) when Spot was released. He said to me back then that they all (Spotify crew) knew who the guys were, but they didn’t really had any reason to stop them since they wanted people to buy premium. It seems like te aren’t that desperate anymore.

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