Spotify is one of the most popular music streaming services in the world, but its app for Windows Phone has always lagged behind the versions for Android and iOS. Today, however, Spotify issued a major new update to its Windows Phone app, finally addressing my single biggest complaint. And suddenly, Spotify is a real contender on my favorite platform.
This is a big deal, if you’re a Windows Phone user and really care about music. To date, I’ve always recommended Xbox Music to those who stick largely with Microsoft’s most modern platforms, because it is updated so frequently on Windows and Windows Phone and works well.
But for the majority of people using Android and iOS, Spotify has become the obvious choice. It offers both free and paid versions of the service, a high-quality, frequently-updated mobile app, and all of the features and functionality I so routinely tout in Xbox Music: see Understanding Xbox Music for a good overview.
And now it appears that Spotify for Windows Phone—finally, belatedly—has caught up with the versions for Android and iOS. Again, this is a big deal. Because in previous versions of the app, you couldn’t do such basic things as add music—meaning an arbitrary album or song—to your cloud-based music collection in Spotify, as you could in Android and iOS. Heck, you couldn’t even access your cloud collection from Spotify for Windows Phone.
Now, you can.
Spotify’s announcement about the update focuses on the UI changes we see in this release, with the “darker theme, refreshed typography and rounded iconography” the firm uses in its other mobile apps. And I am A-OK with those changes: the new version of the app looks great and is consistent with Spotify elsewhere. Previously, Spotify for Windows Phone had a unique and weird UI, and while it did have the hamburger slide-in drawer menu thingamabob, the options were completely different.
But now it’s just like Spotify elsewhere. For example, here’s the new version of the Windows Phone app (on the left) next to the iPhone version (on the right):
So the new UI is nice, and it’s consistent. But the biggest change to me is the addition of the cloud collection piece, which Spotify calls Your Music.
“Today we’re bringing Your Music to Windows Phone: helping you save, organize and browse your favorite music the way you want to,” the Spotify team notes. “Save albums and browse their beautiful cover art, gather your favorite artists and create playlists for every mood and moment. Found a song or album that you like? Just hit save to add it to your collection. It’s that simple.”
It’s been “that simple” on Android and iOS for a long, long time. But I’m not going to grumble too much. I’m going to just be happy that this functionality has finally arrived. OK, I’m going to grumble a little bit.
Finally, Spotify for Windows Phone also includes the Browse feature, which provides “even more relevant and localized content … regardless of whether you’re looking for something to fall asleep to, or the perfect playlist to get you geared up for your big night out, finding the right music for every moment is easier than ever.”
The Spotify service itself is free but ad-based, or you can subscribe to Spotify Premium for $9.99 per month. A Premium subscription lets you arbitrarily play any song in Spotify’s online collection at any time, provides offline playback on mobile devices (including Windows Phone), provides better quality music, and removes the ads. Suddenly, that is a perfectly viable option.