Design

How they’ve ruined Spotify

How they’ve ruined Spotify

I just want to be clear that I used to love Spotify and everything that it stood for, and writing posts criticising other companies or software is something that I’ve never done before – until now.

I started using Spotify in the beta stage, around 2010. I loved it, previously I’d been using iTunes as my main source of music, having hundreds of albums that I owned in one place was great! However whenever I wanted to find new music or rediscover and old classic that I didn’t have, I had to resort to YouTube or Soundcloud. Also I wanted to carry all my music with me on the go, which meant the only option was an iPod Classic as it was the only device that came with enough storage.

Spotify brought with it a game-changing model which was that you didn’t need to ‘own’ the music to ‘own’ it. It was the first streaming app that actually worked, even back then where their music library wasn’t anything on what it is today, it quickly replaced iTunes as my media player. It gave me the freedom to stream music on the go, without carrying around another device. A lot of people say ‘well with Spotify you don’t own the music’ to which I retort with, ‘but why do you need to?’ the artists still get their share of the profits through ads and through the subscription model. Unless you get a really good album, most of the time you only really listen to a few songs from one artist. If you think of it this way, an album costs roughly £10 nowadays, and you get around 15 tracks. With Spotify you pay the same amount a month and you get access to millions of songs that you can stream from anywhere. You can listen to the latest music as it’s released or rediscover old classics that can transport you back to a previous era.

So why is this post about how they’ve ruined it?

With the latest series of updates for both mobile and desktop (I can only comment from iOS experience) they’ve made a lot of UI/UX adjustments and changed the way the apps work. When they first started rebranding, and redesigning their apps I really liked the style, it was cool, new and sleek. However in the past year or so, as they’ve integrated these changes, Spotify has become so bloated with features that somehow adds little purpose.

A recent update that has sparked this post is 2 app versions where a lot of features that I deem crucial have been removed or broken. From posting on the Spotify Community boards I have deduced that I am not alone finding bugs that really shouldn’t have got past testing and quality control.

Spotify used to be so useful and simple to use. Nowadays the iPhone app navigation is convoluted and it always seems to take a while to get to where you want to go. Many times I get in the car and want to chuck on my favourite playlist in a hurry and it takes tap after tap to get to where I want to go.

If Spotify doesn’t have a song, you can add it to the app on your computer and sync it across to your phone. However this is now sporadic and sometimes when you add a local file, Spotify syncs it and then doesn’t actually let you play it. On the desktop version the ability to edit ID3 tags has been removed so you now have to go through iTunes to add track info. Then when you do, Spotify just recognises it as a duplicate file so you’re left with multiple versions of one track.

Playlists on the desktop app are now a nightmare, you used to be able to click the now playing area to take you to the current song in your playlist, this feature has now been broken along with remembering where you are in a playlist. Every time you swap between playlist, you have some serious finger exercising scrolling through to find where you were. You now can’t filter by date, the menus aren’t sticky, so if you do want to filter you have to scroll all the way back up to the top. Then to finish all the issues off, the app takes forever to start up. When it was first released it was fast, efficient and streamlined. Now I hasten to add, it’s completely the opposite.

Now it’s all very well me criticising, but can I suggest any improvements?

The general user interface of the mobile app is very aesthetic, but the general experience could be enhanced by making it easier to navigate and to get to where you want to go. Reinstating the playlist option in the main iOS menu would be a great way of getting to places more easily. The recently played function may be better of being ‘most played’ rather than what you’ve recently listened to. Apart from that, the iOS app is very good. It’s just the bugs with local files that causes issues.

Again with the desktop app the general layout and design is very nice and pleasing. However I can see how a white version of the app could be useful considering it is all very dark. The play queue has now been moved down to the bottom right, and when you click it, it changes the screen that you’re on. I think a great feature to implement would be a pop up queue, similar to how it’s done on the iOS app. This means you can view/change your queue without having to leave where you are.

Integrating AirPlay into the desktop app would be another plus, currently you can stream via Spotify Connect, however this is only if you have a Spotify Connect enabled device, whereas AirPlay can work with Apple TV, AirPort Express and 3rd party apps.

One feature that I would love to have added, is lossless streaming. Modern day internet speeds are capable of streaming 1080p movies which have far larger file sizes than a lossless audio file. Lossless makes such a difference when listening to music and I think that because the Spotify ethos is built around the music that they should offer the ability for users to listen to their music in the best quality their equipment/internet connection can handle.

I don’t want to stop using Spotify, however I’m eagerly anticipating the release of the Beats streaming app now that Apple have got hold of it. Even just a little while ago I would have considered that blasphemy. But right now I feel like Spotify have taken the sugar out of my coke, the caffeine out of my coffee and the alcohol out of my beer.

If anyone from Spotify happens to be reading this article, please try and fix the issues and bring Spotify back to what it once was. The best lifestyle and streaming app available.

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