Ever since the first beta of Spotify, I have been an enthusiastic advocate of the software and the ability to be able to play any music, any time and for a flat fee – of free, ad-supported! Immediately I looked for the iPhone client only to realise that there wasn’t one. This should have seemed obvious; licensing is notoriously difficult for music, especially for portability etc…
So, while I use Spotify a lot, up until last week I still had purchase any music I wanted to travel with me on my iPhone. Enter Spot – the iPhone Spotify Client.
Spot is a Jailbroken-only iPhone application available through Cydia from the modmyi repo. It allows you to access Spotify music on-the-go on the iPhone and iPod touch and it actually works pretty well; providing you have a spotify premium account.
Once you’ve installed Spot and fire it up you’ll see the login screen:
Spot lacks the preset playlists and recommendations of it’s big brother and presents it’s primary method of finding music as a search bar. This works pretty effectively, results are ordered by relevance as in Spotify.
Drilling down, you get Album Art previews and can go down through Albums, Singles and Songs. Having selected a song you get a Now Playing Panel somewhat reminiscent of the iPod interface.
It begins to play almost immediately on Wifi, 3G is usable but will pause and buffer occasionally. Edge is a no-go. Switching tracks is smooth and overall, the experience is usable. Tracks stop playing when you close the application with no apparent built-in background playing support (although I’m sure backgrounder could be used).
It works, it’s usable and it’s an answer to the prayers of many. However there are some quite serious points that need to be addressed moving forward.
- The UI waits for data-downloading. Clicking on an Artist will cause the UI to become unresponsive until the necessary data is downloaded and the next screen can be rendered. An approach of switching to the new view and dynamically populating it while showing a loading spinner would be a lot more pleasant, and save time and data; ordered by relevance, one of the first hits will likely be the one you want so you can click it before the others are loaded. This makes it very slow to use on 3G and Edge and jerky on Wifi.
- The client seems to be unaware of regional restrictions; playing a track that is unavailable in your region causes the appliaction to buffer the track perpetually. This is not a huge issue as you can press the next button, but is annoying if you’re playing a list of tracks etc..
- The UI is (technically) awful. It actually looks okay in most cases, but it’s consistency and ease of access to many features is poor. Also, once you browse away from the search you began a playlist from, accessing the ‘Now Playing’ screen becomes (from what I can tell) impossible which seems odd!
- The Playlist feature doesn’t work. I have a bunch of spotify playlists on my account, none of them show up.
For a 1.0 product, it works acceptably and adds a great feature to the iPhone and Spotify – it made me buy a Spotify premium account! There are a lot of issues, but seeing as it’s the only option, they’re not show-stoppers but if the developer sits around too long a more polished alternative is bound to appear!
Better still; the source code is open at http://github.com/nevyn/spot/tree/master for anybody to browse so I’m hoping to see all of the above improve rapidly!!
Great Job Joachim – you’ve made a lot of people very happy.
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