Tag Archives: iphone

Spotify Mobile Faceoff: iPhone vs. Android

Spotify Mobile on iPhone and Android are both reasonably mature apps now, having been launched simultaneously back in September 2009. At the time, the Android version had a slight edge in terms of features, with its unique ability to Sync Over 3G, a What’s New area, and most crucially the ability to play in the background. But the iPhone version seemed to take priority at Spotify and within a few months it had caught up then taken the lead from Android.

So how do they compare today? Here’s a detailed breakdown.


Updates and Customer Satisfaction

Spotify on iPhone is now a full SEVEN versions ahead of Android (v0.4.16 vs. v0.4.9) and saw five updates in 2010 compared with only one update for Android. Clearly there are many more users of Spotify on iPhones than Android, although I am sure this gap must surely be shrinking (cf. Android dominating iPhone in UK smartphone market). Checking the user ratings on the Apple App Store and Google Market shows:

  • Spotify on Android has an average score of 88%
  • Spotify on iPhone has an average score of 50%

This seems to imply that Android users are much happier with Spotify compared to their Apple counterparts, although note that many users rate Spotify with a one-out-of-five merely because they don’t want to pay for it.


Where Spotify on Android Beats Spotify on iPhone

Google Android has several unique built-in features that developers can take of advantage of when creating new apps. Luckily the bright sparks at Spotify siezed upon these to make sure Spotify on Android took full advantage of its platform. This enabled the following features unique to Spotify on Android:

    Spotify Widgets on Android

  • Player widget on home screen. One of Android’s killer features is home screen widgets. Any music player worth its salt on Android has a player widget and Spotify is no exception. You get some mini-album art as well as the basic playback controls.
  • Starred Tracks folder on home screen. Any track you’ve starred in Spotify is listed in a special folder you can add to a homescreen for quick access.
  • Integrates with Google Search widget. Apps with searchable “things” can register for the standard local search on Android. Spotify is there, letting you search for tracks in playlists (including local music). Clicking a search result opens Spotify and starts playing the song, although there seems to be a bug for local music (it opens Spotify but doesn’t locate or play the track).
  • Voice search. My favorite Android Only feature is the integrated voice search. It’s great for impressing your friends with: ask them to name a song, any song; you whip out your ‘droid, say the name of the song into it and the tune starts playing instantly. Of course, you then have to get the next round in for being such a smart-arse but I think it’s worth it.
  • Choose storage location. On devices with more than one storage location (for example, Samsung smartphones) you can set Spotify’s caching area.

Spotify for Android has three other features missing from Spotify on iPhone:

  • Artist view: Biography. Thanks to Androids tab feature, when you’re on an Artist page you can click the Biography tab to read the band’s biography (if they have one), just like on the desktop.
  • Artist view: Top hits. Another dedicated tab on an Artist page, this lists to top tracks for that artist, again just like on the desktop. You can actually get this on Spotify for iPhone: simply search for the band then click the Artist tab. Songs are listed in order of popularity which is the same as Top Hits.
  • Library. The Library area from the Playlists tab lists all the songs you have in playlists (including local music) alphabetically. I’m not too sure what it’s good for (shuffle play your entire collection?) but it does have a filter hidden at the top. This attempts to replace the missing playlist search feature on the iPhone version (see below) but it’s a bit of a fudge.

Artist Biography on Android - not available on iPhone


Where Spotify on iPhone Beats Spotify on Android

There are lots of features on Spotify for iPhone that are missing from Spotify on Android. None of these seem to be specific to iOS, so their omision from Android is probably just down to a lack of priority or resources.

Here’s what you’ll find that’s currently unique to Spotify on iPhone:

  • Playlist folders. Eleven months after they arrived on the desktop, playlist folders finally appeared on Spotify mobile. But only on iPhone. For anyone with more than a few dozen playlists, folder management is the essential feature to keep track of your music. Implementation on iPhone is flawless, copying the desktop style perfectly and enabling nested folders for even greater flexibility. This single feature gives Spotify on iPhone a huge advantage over Android.
  • Create a new playlist from a track. If you hear a track you like you can create a new playlist based on that song. On Android, you can only create new playlists based on entire albums.
  • Rearrange tracks in a playlist. Another big advantage to Spotify on iPhone is the ability to sort tracks within a playlist. Android has no sorting option at all.
  • Rearrange playlists. As above, but for playlists.
  • Search in playlist. Similar to the filter feature on desktop Spotify. Unavailable on Android, although the Library filter is similar.
  • Album art on Artist and Search pages. A “feature” exclusive to iPhone from the start, thumbnail coverart for albums appear on both Artist pages and in search results.

Album view comparison

  • Artist art on Search pages. Switch to the artist view on search results shows thumbnail artist photos as shown below.
  • Volume normalization. Audio (or peak) normalization makes every track sound roughly the same volume level. It’s particularly useful when you have a playlist with tracks from both new and older albums (since new albums are always artificially made “louder”). Normalization is available on the desktop and on iPhone, but not Android.
  • Find/play replacement tracks. As on the desktop, if you try to play a track that’s “not available in your country,” Spotify for iPhone will try to find and play from an alternative album instead. As far as I know, this doesn’t happen on Android.
  • Add a note when sharing a track to Spotify People. When sharing a song to someone’s Inbox, you get the option to add some text along with the song (just like on the desktop). This isn’t an option on Android.
  • Copy playlist URL to clipboard for pasting. Ironic given the iPhone’s history, you can easily copy a playlist’s Spotify URL for pasting elsewhere. You can’t do this directly from Spotify for Android, although you can share to twitter (for example) then copy the URL that’s entered into your draft tweet.

Artist search view comparison



Adding up the unique features (and allowing the inclusion of Android OS-specific ones), we get:

  • Spotify on Android: 8 points
  • Spotify on iPhone: 11 points

So Spotify on iPhone wins in terms of number of unique features. As an Android fanboy it pains me to say it, but when you also consider the quality and usefulness of these unique functions, Spotify on iPhone is a clear winner.

But if you’re looking at hardware and processing power and want to compare the iPhone 4 with my Samsung Galaxy S II, well that’s a completely different story 😉


Differences in the What's New page

Thanks to @jasminetea for Spotify iPhone screenshots.

Spotify Says Hello to the Walkman

Spotify’s new feature announcement is great news for its freemium users, casual listeners and iPod owners. If you’re one of these: rejoice! You can now benefit from cheaper-than-iTunes MP3 purchases, wireless syncing and Spotify-lite on your mobile. But for Premium users like myself there’s not too much here to get excited about.

When I signed up back in ’09 for Spotify’s cloud service in the sky, I shifted from downloading MP3s to accessing Spotify’s near-infinite stream of on-demand music. This was a complete pardigm shift in the same way that vinyl to CD was (actually, more so). So this week’s introduction of an MP3 download store seems a bit of a backwards step to me. Granted it’s bound to hoover up some pennies from the freemium users (who were probably never going to upgrade anyway), but it also waters-down Spotify’s unique selling point (on-demand, P2P-based streaming music service) and further muddies Spotify’s message of being “the best alternative to piracy.”

The whole notion of MP3s and iPods seems so last-century to me now that I’m left somewhat perplexed about Spotify’s direction and wondering what’s happened to its bold, pioneering vision of a music-streaming future. Whether this diversification was self-driven or inflicted on Spotify by the record labels we’ll probably never know. I guess the figures didn’t add up and there are still too many “legacy” downloaders and iPod owners who aren’t yet ready to exchange file ownership for streamed music access.

Don’t get me wrong though: I think it’s fantastic that freemium users now finally have a chance to use Spotify Mobile: it’s a brilliant app – mobile’s killer app – but Spotify Free for Mobile doesn’t access the Spotify stream, making it essentially just another way to play MP3s (albeit one with a unique wireless syncing feature that’s bound to appeal to iTunes users).

Spotify have lost some friends of late (a bunch of freemium users and oh yes, 7digital) but I still have true faith in the company: despite the focus and innovation seemingly aimed solely at free users, their Premium streaming service still remains second-to-none.


Needless to say, many stories and reactions to this latest Spotify news have appeared throughout the day. Here’s a selection of the best:


Spotify Mobile: Android vs. iPhone Smackdown!


UPDATE: a revised version of this page is here.

I finally managed to get a hands-on look at Spotify Mobile for the iPhone (thanks @JackalHeadGod). Being familiar with Spotify on Android, I was able to compare the two to determine what things they had in common and which features were unique to one device. Here then is the definitive report on which is best – it’s the Spotify Mobile Smackdown: iPhone versus Android!

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Spotify on Android: An In-Depth Review

After many months of waiting, Spotify is now available for premium subscribers on two mobile platforms: Apple’s iPhone (including iPod Touch) and Google Android. As I predicted a few weeks ago, these were released together at the same time and I’m delighted to say that they’re everything I’d hoped for. Since I have a Android phone (the G1 on T-Mobile), here is an in-depth review of Spotify on Android!
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Top 10 Reasons Why Google Android is Better than iPhone

With the announcement of a forthcoming Spotify app for Google Android, here’s some reasons why I prefer Android devices over the iPhone. Obviously as an Android user I’m completely biased here and I freely admit the iPhone is certainly a slick gadget. However, I think Google Android is better than an iPhone because:

  1. You’ll be able to run Spotify!
  2. You can multitask.
  3. You can scan regular barcodes.
  4. You can add standard micro-SD cards to expand the storage.
  5. You’re not locked-in to one hardware device from one supplier.
  6. You’re not locked-in to one mobile carrier.
  7. It’s better value for money (over an 18-month contract it’s about £300 more for an iPhone)
  8. Apps are not over-censored and are available promptly. This means that Android developers can get updates and fixes out on a daily basis as they don’t need to go through a vetting approval process each time.
  9. It has a compass for e.g. Google Streetview.
  10. It integrates completely with Google services: gmail, google newsreader etc.
  11. You can easily change the battery when it dies.

Some of these reasons are down to the hardware, but they are still features not available on iPhone so I think it’s still a fair comparison.

Apple Mac and iPhone Apps for Spotify

What with Spot, the despotify-sourced Spotify client for iPhone making an appearance on YouTube, I thought this might be a good time to round up all the Apple-specific tools and apps for Spotify. Most of these are remote controllers, but there’s also a Last.fm tool and a playlist widget. Note I’m a Windows/Ubuntu/Android guy so I’ve not been able to test any of these out myself, but each one seems to have an active and enthusiastic developer behind it.

  • Listify – Turns Apple iTunes playlists into Spotify playlists.
  • Music Controls – iPhone app (on Cydia) that lets you run and control the Spotify iPhone app in the background.
  • iPhone Remote for Spotify – An iSofa-based webapp for the iPhone that lets you play/pause Spotify, jump to the next or previous track, control the volume and play up to nine playlists. Developer semisans says “I have speakers in several rooms connected to my mac and can now control it even from my patio.” To use, you also need to activate Universal Access in your System Preferences.
  • Spotify Mac Remote – A plugin that allows you to use your Mac’s remote control to play, pause, change tracks and adjust the volume. It also supports Keyspan RF remotes for older Macs and Mac Pros. Requires SIMBL.
  • Spotifylinks Widget – A dashboard widget synced to the spotifylinks playlist website. It’s fed by the site’s RSS so you’ll see a constant stream of new playlists as they’re added.
  • Control Spotify via Apple Script – Another remote control for Spotify. Developer cybesystem says “it’s remotecontrolling for Mac. Just for you who got a mac hooked up as the mediacentre, and some SSH-compliant system near.

Also see: the official Spotify for iPhones page.

Updated: 22 Feb 2010

The Apple Spiral

he couldn’t believe how easy it was
he put the app into its place
(so much retweeting from such a tiny little app)

problems have solutions
a lifetime of fucking things up fixed in one determined blog post

everything’s apple
in this world
the deepest shade of lucre green
all fuzzy
spilling out of my iPhone

Spotify Predictions

Spotify is really taking off in Europe and especially in the UK, so I thought this would be a good time to make a few predictions on where I see Spotify going in the next few months.

I definitely expect to soon see:

  • More content. A lot more content. This is an obvious given, and every week sees thousands and thousands of new tracks (and new partners) are added to Spotify.
  • Free registration for the rest of Europe – Spotify’s strategy of gradual roll-out makes sense and proves its scalability. I expect most of Europe to be fully Spotified soon (barring publishing restrictions of course).
  • Spotify for iphone – This surely must happen soon: already rumors abound that there’s an beta-program, and one commenter here has even posted a proof-of-concept video. Making this a Premium subscriber service would make sense (and, I expect Spotify hope, a lot of money). Of course, this all might be de-railed by an end to net-neutrality.
  • Open API – Users have been screaming our for API access to Spotify (well, the geek programmer users at least), as this would provide a wealth of plug-ins and added-value features. This might work like Firefox Add-ons and grow its own user-base of Spotify supporters. One thing it probably won’t do though is to allow the Spotify client to be replaced, as this might hurt ad revenue.
  • Social media tools – It’s not just zeitgeist, social media is here to stay and any app that has user registration simply must enable them to communicate and share with each other.
  • Version 1.0 – the current Spotify client is only at version 0.3. They may take the Google route and keep it as a beta for months and months, but I expect a greatly enhanced 1.0 release to tie-in with the iphone app. Spotify use the getsatisfaction site for customer service and support, and have proved that they listen to users by updating the app with (for example) the much-requested Last.fm scrobbling feature.
  • More adverts – Once the userbase hits some critical mass, I expect the number and frequency of commercials to increase. This will annoy many users, but it will also be enough for many hooked on the service to pony up some cash for the Premium service.

We’ll probably also see at some point:

  • Spotify for USA – Although expansion to the US is generally expected by most users, Spotify could be very profitable as a Europe-only service (in the same way that, for example, Rhapsody is a profitable US-only service). I would expect that the rights bought by Spotify from the music publishers are for Europe only, a whole lot cheaper (and easier to negociate) than global rights. Perhaps not until Spotify hits profitability (or is bought out by someone like Apple or Google) will it be available in America.
  • Spotify for Google Android phones – I hope so!
  • Properly tagged tracks – Spotify have automated systems that are fed lossless music and metadata direct from the record companies. The system converts and compresses each track into a smaller (but still relatively high-quality) Ogg Vorbis file and adds it to the Spotify database along with the corresponding tags (artist, title, album, genre, runtime, publisher). This is all completely automated: contrary to what you might have thought, Spotify do not pay hundreds of students to sit and rip CDs all day. But there’s a problem in that some suppliers provide poorly tagged track names, frequently missing out the name of a mix. So you end up with lots of EPs that seem to have the same song 7 or 8 times in a row, when in fact they’re all different mixes. I hope Spotify come up with a fix for this soon, as it’s the biggest annoyance for me.

But I don’t think we’ll see any time soon:

  • Downloadable (MP3) tracks -I expect Spotify (like Last.fm) have streaming rights only and are not allowed to make the content available as downloadable files. I expect they’ll add click-thru Buy buttons to existing mp3 resellers, certainly for the free version. Premium subscribers might have the option to save, but this would require a conversion process. Spotify does save files on your local drive, but these seem to be pieces of encrypted Ogg Vorbis files (i.e. you can’t just rename a file .mp3). All this is kinda moot though – the desire to keep a personal copy of a track will become anachronistic: why bother wasting local drive space when all the music is in the cloud and available on all my devices instantly?
  • Movies – Spotify is bult around doing one thing very well: streaming audio using a simple interface. Adding movies to this mix is a completely different business model and I expect would require an extensive redesign to the underlying architecture. So I don’t think we’ll see movies on Spotify too soon.

So, those are my predictions on what we might soon see in Spotify. Do you agree? Any other predictions?