App Review: Spotify Free for Smartphones


Spotify is an online application which allows users to stream music legally through their computer, smartphone or tablet. A monthly subscription of €9.99 is required for full Premium services but a free version is also available. Until recently free users could only avail of it on desktops/laptops but in December 2013 Spotify gave us all an early Christmas present allowing the app to be accessed on mobile devices.

Spotify Free is downloaded through the Apple or Android app store.  Users must register and create an account but credit card details are not required for free users.

The mobile version enjoys much of the same features as the Premium service. Music can be browsed by artist, album, and genre or as a direct search. Users can also create playlists or play existing ones, create unique music stations and follow artists.

The restrictions begin with the inability to play music offline; Spotify Free requires an internet or 3G connection at all times, unlike Premium. 15-20 second adverts also play every few songs but these are minimally intrusive. The main annoyance is the playback feature.

Music can only be streamed via “shuffle play”, which gives users no control over which song plays next. You could skip through them, but there is a maximum allowance of 6 song skips per hour. Short playlists are ‘helpfully’ supplemented with song suggestions and when you try to skip those (provided you haven’t used your allowance) Spotify replaces them with another ‘suggestion’. If enjoy discovering new artists then this may not bother you, but for someone who just wants the music they want on demand, it’ll drive you crazy.

However, Spotify Free is designed to just give you a taste of what’s on offer. It’s not meant to be a replacement for the full service. Just don’t be surprised if in less than a month you’ve signed up for Premium.

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