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Spotify Brings Back the Tab Bar on iOS

As I mentioned on Connected earlier today, I've been using both Spotify and Apple Music for the past few months. I prefer how discovery is more skewed towards indie artists and songs I don't know in Spotify, but I keep Apple Music around because of its exclusives, colorful interface, and system integrations. I'll write about this eventually.

One of the design decisions I couldn't stand in the Spotify app for iPhone was its hamburger button and hidden menu that required far too many swipes and taps to navigate in the app. Interacting with the menu was slow, getting search to open quickly never worked, and it epitomized many of the reasons why several companies (including Apple) have been advising against using a hamburger menu with navigation hidden by default.

The good news today is that the classic tab bar is back in style at Spotify. Starting today, the company is rolling out a redesigned navigation experience on the iPhone (pictured above) with five tabs across the bottom – Home, Browse, Radio, Library, and Search in the middle.

There's nothing exceptionally inventive about this design – it's the good old tab bar you've known since the iPhone debuted nine years ago, with a docked mini player that's highly reminiscent of Apple Music.

Hello tab bar, my old friend.

Hello tab bar, my old friend.

Everything old is new again, and, I have to say, I was looking forward to Spotify rolling out this design since I saw screenshots of an A/B test they ran a few weeks ago. While it was fun to experiment with various spins on the hamburger button for the past few years, I've seen several apps go back to a traditional tab bar design with navigation elements always shown. As it turns out, the tab bar is faster, it's more intuitive, and it's just more comfortable to reach on large displays.

The same applies for Spotify: navigating across sections is faster, and resetting a view to its initial state takes only a couple of taps (tap the tab bar icon to change view, and tap it again to go back to the initial screen). There are some instances in which a hamburger button with side menu makes sense, but I'm glad Spotify has gone back to a tab bar.

You can get the latest version of Spotify from the App Store. If you don't see the tab bar yet and you're based in one of the supported countries (I have an American Spotify account), try force-quitting and re-opening Spotify. That did the trick for me.

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