Harry Richardson

The Apps I Use: Spotify

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Spotify is, without a doubt, my most used app. I listen to music constantly throughout the day - on my phone or the desktop application. Obviously my commute is strictly on the phone. I have had a premium subscription to Spotify for about 4 years, so I think Spotify in general is great (I wouldn’t be using it for so long otherwise!); however, as you are about to find out, I do have a few qualms with the iPhone app.

Let’s talk about the design:

I like the dark colour scheme and overall aesthetics of the app - it’s certainly easy on the eyes. From a UX perspective, however, I feel there are some major issues. The biggest and most obvious is the hamburger menu! It doesn’t add anything to the experience - it only takes away. Surely Spotify have analytics on what sections the user visits most? Do they look at the ‘Activity’ section as much as the ‘Your Music’ section? I wouldn’t have thought so (could be wrong, of course). If so, move it away. The other thing that’s annoying with these hamburger menus is the depth of your navigation stack; it’s so easy to be browsing one of your playlists, tap a song’s details, go to the album, then to the artist, then elsewhere, and suddenly you’re 8 levels down and you realise you want to search something else. In order to do that you have to go back those 8 times, then tap the hamburger icon, and finally you’re allowed to search. It’s incredibly frustrating. You’ve also lost your navigation stack where you were before. I wouldn’t say this is an enjoyable experience!

Since writing the initial draft to this post, the desktop application has been updated, and the first thing I noticed was that the left menu has been stripped down. Many of the options have been moved - either under different headings, or just moved elsewhere. This is great, and I really hope the iPhone application follows suit.

OK, onto functionality:

I like a lot of things about the app - you can do a lot with it. Much of what you can do on the desktop app you can also do on the mobile app. You can even control what your desktop app is playing straight from the mobile app! Or continue playing what you were listening to elsewhere - I like that. Continuity is great, and I’m yet to see any bugs with this particular feature. It can’t have been easy to implement, and yet it feels so seamless.

There are a few bugs which continue to annoy me. When I first started writing this post (a good few months ago, I apologise) there were a number of offline play bugs; there were bugs that would show their ugly face when you tried to queue a song. Most of these have been fixed, thankfully. This is good news. The bad news is that every so often when I sync up my playlists from my computer, some songs fail to transfer - they are essentially broken unless I completely delete the app and start all over again. Annoyingly, this seems to be random, and doesn’t always happen immediately. I am unable to queue the songs. They look as if they would play fine (the green synced arrow is there). But they do not, and this is incredibly frustrating. There are even other occasions where a song is greyed out, but the synced arrow is visible. I think overall, this is one of those things that I’m currently putting up with because I have 600 songs in this playlist and 1 or 2 (or 23, I just counted) not working doesn’t quite make me want to leave Spotify.

Finally, a positive point - which mostly offsets the previous point - is that Spotify’s release cycle is excellent. For the last few months it’s been at least one update per month. Not all large companies are so agile, so this is really good news.

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