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Posts tagged with "spotify"

Spotify Rolling Out Redesigned ‘Your Library’ Page for Mobile Apps

As announced by Spotify earlier today, the company is rolling out a redesigned ‘Your Library’ page in its iOS and Android apps that should make it easier to browse your music collection and podcast episodes with a new grid view, better filters and sorting options, and more. From the Spotify Newsroom:

Your collection of music and podcasts is a representation of you—and it’s something deeply personal. But with 5,000+ hours of content released globally every day on Spotify and hundreds of those saved in Your Library, we know it’s crucial to be able to quickly find what you’re looking for, jump back into your latest discovery, or rediscover a beloved track you saved years ago.

Starting today, we are rolling out a new version of Your Library to all Spotify mobile users. Now, you’ll have a more streamlined way to easily explore your collection and find your saved music and podcasts faster. Your Library’s updated design and added features will enable you to spend less time looking for content and organizing your collection, and more time rediscovering the music and podcasts you’ve loved over the years. And as always, keep adding even more content for a library that grows alongside you into the future.

I’m particularly intrigued by grid view and the new filters to switch between music and podcasts. I’m also curious to see if this new design applies to the iPad app (which continues to pale in comparison to Apple Music’s solid iPad client) or not.

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Spotify Announces Car Thing: Dedicated Audio Streaming Hardware for Drivers

Source: Spotify.

Source: Spotify.

Spotify has announced Car Thing, a dedicated Bluetooth-enabled audio controller for your car. Car Thing, which is Spotify’s first foray into hardware, is currently available by invitation only to Premium subscribers in the US.

Spotify’s new device is unique in that it isn’t a standalone product; it requires a mobile phone to work. The device itself is a touch screen with a handful of physical buttons and a big knob for navigating the service’s offerings. Data for streaming music or podcasts is provided by your mobile phone, which connects to Car Thing over Bluetooth. Car Thing doesn’t have a rechargeable battery or built-in speakers either. Power is provided by a USB-C to USB-A cable that must be plugged into a power source, and sound can be routed to your car’s audio system with a dedicated cable or over Bluetooth.

Source: Spotify.

Source: Spotify.

Car Thing, which also comes with dashboard mounting hardware, is controlled using its touch screen, programmable buttons along the top edge of the device, the knob, which allows drivers to scroll through the service’s content, and Spotify’s new ‘Hey Spotify’ digital assistant feature. Ashley Carman of The Verge had an opportunity to try Car Thing for a couple of days and had this to say about the device:

The voice controls mostly worked — for some reason it only got tripped up on a Kid Cudi request — but I grew frustrated with the steps it took to control music. When a song that I didn’t like played, it took longer to say, “Hey Spotify, skip” than it would have to just tap the skip button on my phone. I generally felt like I could more efficiently navigate Spotify just by using my phone at stop lights. The device does shine, however, when you ask the voice assistant to start a playlist, and it registered those commands easily.

Carman also notes that currently, Car Thing requires a data connection because it can only stream audio, although Spotify did not rule out a future update for accessing any downloaded content.

Source: Spotify.

Source: Spotify.

Car Thing is a fascinating product. Many users who already rely on features like Apple’s CarPlay and Android Auto will probably be content to continue to use those options, which offer other apps and services too. However, for drivers with older vehicles that don’t have built-in entertainment systems or ones that integrate with Spotify already and heavy Spotify users who like the idea of a dedicated Spotify interface, Car Thing is an intriguing option. I’m very curious to hear more about what it’s like to use in practice and get my hands on one myself.

If you live in the US and are a Spotify Premium subscriber, you can sign up to join the waitlist to receive the Car Thing. If you’re chosen, Spotify will send you a free Car Thing and only charge you $6.99 for shipping.


Spotify Launches New ‘Spotify Mixes’ with Personalized Playlists Based on Artists, Genres, and Decades

Spotify Mixes in the Made for You hub.

Spotify Mixes in the Made for You hub.

Earlier today, Spotify announced their latest feature rollout for both free and premium users: Spotify Mixes. Inspired by the Daily Mix, which the company introduced in 2016, Spotify Mixes are a collection of personalized playlists tailored specifically to each user and available in three main “flavors”: in the updated Made for You hub (which you can find in the Search page), you’ll find Artist Mixes, Genre Mixes, and Decade Mixes.

Here’s how Spotify says these new playlists will work:

Each mix is created with you at the core, based on your listening habits and the artists, genres, and decades you listen to most. They’re rooted in familiarity, meaning that you won’t just hear your favorite artists, but your favorite songs from those artists.

Then, we supplement by adding in songs we think you’ll love, meaning they’ll be filled with the music you have on repeat alongside some fresh picks. So whether you want to jam out to a specific artist or hear more music from another decade, there’s a mix just for you.

According to Spotify, these new mixes will update over time to reflect your listening habits and will present a dynamic collection of playlists from different artists, genres, and decades, including both songs you already know and new ones the service thinks you might like.

I received the new Spotify Mixes this morning and, as you can see in the image above, they provide an eerily accurate representation of my diverse music preferences – from late 90s Placebo and mid 2000s emo punk to modern artists such as Pale Waves and Taylor Swift.

As I’m writing almost on a weekly basis now, I’m impressed with Spotify’s ongoing streak of product launches and understanding of what their users seek in the service. With genre filters, the ability to shuffle liked songs based on mood, and now mixes for decades and artists, Spotify helps me enjoy and rediscover music in any moment of the day; so far, I’m glad I decided to switch from Apple Music for a year.


Spotify Updating Home Hub with Recently Played Section, Deeper Podcast Integration

As announced by Spotify last week, the company is rolling out a refreshed home hub in its mobile app featuring a new Recently Played section, an easier way to stream new releases from your favorite artists, and shortcuts to play and resume podcast episodes with one tap:

About a year ago, we reworked the Spotify mobile experience to refresh our Home interface. Since then, Spotify users have been able to access the content they love more quickly and easily—and maybe even discover something new straight from their home screen. But the ease and discovery don’t stop there. This month, we’re announcing a series of updates that will make the Home experience even more personalized for each and every listener.

We’re constantly working on ways to improve our user experience. Through this latest update, we’ll be rolling out several advancements on the mobile Home hub designed to make finding the audio you love easier and more intuitive. These will roll out to users globally on iOS and Android this month.

The redesigned home hub is the latest announcement in a series of recent product updates, including genre and mood filters for liked songs, real-time lyrics, and the upcoming lossless tier.

In my tests with Spotify this year, I’ve been positively impressed by the company’s pace of updates. What I find particularly intriguing in the refreshed home hub design is the integration with podcasts: I was very skeptical of blending music and podcasts in the same app when I switched to Spotify at the end of last year, but the more I use it, the more I understand why podcast listening in Spotify is growing rapidly. There’s something about making both kinds of audio content accessible in one place that works well for removing friction from having to choose what I want to listen to. I’m curious to see how Spotify will balance music and podcast episodes in new home hub (which I don’t have in my Spotify app yet).

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Apple Clarifies Ability to ‘Set Default’ Audio Apps in iOS 14.5

Earlier today, Apple provided TechCrunch with a fascinating clarification regarding the ability in iOS and iPadOS 14.5 to pick “default” audio apps for music, podcast, and audiobook playback.

From Sarah Perez’s article:

Apple has clarified that the iOS 14.5 beta is not actually allowing users to select a new default music service, as has been reported. Following the beta’s release back in February, a number of beta testers noticed that Siri would now ask what music service they would like to use when they asked Siri to play music. But Apple doesn’t consider this feature the equivalent to “setting a default” — an option it more recently began to allow for email and browser apps.

Instead, the feature is Siri intelligence-based, meaning it can improve and even change over time as Siri learns to better understand your listening habits.

For example, if you tell Siri to play a song, album or artist, it may ask you which service you want to use to listen to this sort of content. However, your response to Siri is not making that particular service your “default,” Apple says. In fact, Siri may ask you again at some point — a request that could confuse users if they thought their preferences had already been set.

On the surface, it appears as if Apple’s argument boils down to semantics. Because iOS 14.5 will not offer a proper page in Settings to configure “default” audio apps (like you can for browsers and email clients, as I argued on yesterday’s episode of Connected), then it’s not correct to say you’ll be able to change the default music app on your iPhone or iPad. We could debate why Apple is not building a page in Settings for this but still allowing Siri to integrate with third-party streaming services and apps (competitive advantages vs. antitrust concerns?), but that’s besides the point. What I find more interesting is that Apple explains this feature is actually doing more than just sticking to a default option:

The audio choice feature, of course, doesn’t prevent users from requesting a particular service by name, even if it’s not their usual preference.

For instance, you can still say something like “play smooth jazz radio on Pandora” to launch that app instead. However, if you continued to request Pandora by name for music requests — even though you had initially specified Apple Music or Spotify or some other service when Siri had first prompted you — then the next time you asked Siri to play music without specifically a service, the assistant may ask you again to choose a service.

From this perspective, given the dynamic nature of this functionality, I understand why Apple may be uncomfortable comparing it to the ability to switch default browser and email apps. At the same time, I want to mention how I’ve been using iOS 14.5 for the past month, and after an initial configuration, Siri continued to default to Spotify and never prompted me to pick another one again. I’m giving Apple’s explanation the benefit of the doubt, but I’m curious to see how this feature will work in the final release of iOS 14.5.

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Spotify Adding Genre and Mood Filters for Liked Songs

Fascinating new option announced by Spotify last week, coming soon to the app’s ‘Liked Songs’ default playlist:

Your “Liked Songs” on Spotify are a collection of you—spanning every genre you’ve ever enjoyed and each mood you’ve experienced. Some days, you might be looking to play the entire eclectic mix, while on others, you’re searching for a certain feel.

Starting today, Spotify is rolling out a new way for our listeners to easily sort their “Liked Songs” collection for every mood and moment through new Genre and Mood filters. With this new feature, listeners with at least 30 tracks in their collections will be able to filter their favorite songs by up to 15 personalized mood and genre categories.

Between this, real-time lyrics, the HiFi tier, and the upcoming integration with Siri in iOS 14.5, it seems like I picked a good time to try Spotify for a year.

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Spotify Announces It Will Offer a New CD-Quality, Lossless Streaming Music Tier Later This Year

At its Stream On event today, Spotify announced that it is adding a new CD-quality lossless tier to its music streaming service later this year. Spotify says the high-resolution streaming is one of its users’ most-requested features and that it is working with speaker manufacturers to ensure there are Spotify Connect devices at launch that take advantage of the new tier.

There are no details on pricing or other aspects of the new service yet, which will be called Spotify HiFi. In a not-so-subtle jab at Apple Music, which has worked closely with Billie Eilish and heavily promoted her music, Spotify coupled today’s announcement with a short video of Eilish and her brother Finneas discussing the importance of high fidelity audio.

It will be interesting to see how Apple Music responds. As competing music streaming services have grown more alike than different, high-resolution audio is being used by several services to try to differentiate themselves from competitors and support higher prices.

Apple has had a ‘Mastered for iTunes’ program since 2013 to ensure that the highest-quality source material is available. However, the music the company streams to Apple Music subscribers is compressed. With the introduction of the HomePod and AirPods Max, high-resolution audio already seemed like a natural next step to expand Apple’s services business. I wouldn’t be surprised if Spotify’s announcement today pushes Apple to announce high-fidelity streaming this year too.

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iOS and iPadOS 14.5 Betas Let Users Pick The Default Streaming Music Service Used by Siri

As MacRumors’ Tim Hardwick reported earlier today, the iOS and iPadOS 14.5 betas permit users to change the default music streaming service used for playback by Siri.

The new feature, which originally surfaced on Reddit and reported on by The 8-Bit, appears the first time you ask Siri to play music. Siri displays a list of audio apps installed on your device, asking you to pick one. As you can see from screenshots of Federico’s iPhone above, the feature currently suggests audio apps that can’t respond to music requests like podcast players, but he has confirmed that it works with Spotify for playing individual songs and playlists. Switching streaming services after the initial prompt to pick one can be accomplished using Siri too.

Late last year, Apple introduced the ability to change the streaming service used with the HomePod and HomePod mini, so it’s not surprising that the feature that Apple is expanding the feature to all Siri requests. However, the new iOS and iPadOS 14.5 feature is nonetheless significant because it will reach a far larger audience of iPhone and iPad users that don’t own a HomePod.

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Year-End Music Insights From Apple’s Replay 2020 and Top 100 Playlists, Plus MacStories’ Apple Music Wrapped Shortcut

Apple’s annual Replay playlists are available and updated throughout most of the year by visiting replay.music.apple.com. However, as of this week, if you visit the site, you will see your year-end statistics too, which provide insights about your listening habits in 2020.

When you click or tap the ‘Get Your Replay Mix’ button, a webpage is generated with:

  • The total number of hours you’ve listened to Apple Music in the past year
  • Your 2020 Replay playlist of top-played tracks, including the number of times you played each song
  • The number of artists you’ve listened to this year and a list of the ones you’ve listened to the most, including the hours you spent listening to each
  • The number of albums you listened to along with a personal top 10 that shows how many times you listened to each album
  • Links to past annual Replay playlists

I find these statistics fascinating and wish that they didn’t require you to visit a special website. I understand there is a privacy angle here, which undoubtedly is why Apple doesn’t generate these statistics for you automatically. However, the Replay playlists are still a feature that should be built into the company’s apps.

Spotify does a much better job with the year-end Wrapped playlist and related statistics it creates for users. In addition to the playlist, Spotify breaks down the year in music, reporting on trends on its ‘For the Record’ podcast and the company’s blog. For anyone interested in where the global music scene is heading, these Spotify features and articles are a terrific resource.

The report created by the Apple Music Wrapped shortcut. It's true, I really like [Kyoto](https://music.apple.com/us/album/kyoto/1504699857?i=1504699860).

The report created by the Apple Music Wrapped shortcut. It’s true, I really like Kyoto.

If you’re looking for a way to approximate Spotify’s Wrapped playlist for Apple Music and extend Apple’s Replay report, check out the Apple Music Wrapped shortcut that Federico created a couple of years ago and has updated for 2020. The shortcut, which is part of the MacStories Shortcuts Archive, generates a report on your music listening for the past year that can be viewed in Safari, creates a PDF you can save to Files or Dropbox, and can build a Top 25 playlist that it saves to the Music app. You can read more about Apple Music Wrapped’s features here.

Apple Music Wrapped

Create a detailed report for the music you’ve listened to in the past year. The shortcut can optionally create a Top 25 playlist for your most played songs and generate a PDF report. The shortcut is primarily designed for Apple Music subscribers.
To calculate number of plays, the shortcut looks at songs that have been played in full without skipping and added to your library in any given year.

Get the shortcut here.

Apple's many Top 100 playlists.

Apple’s many Top 100 playlists.

Apple has also debuted a series of Top 100 year-end playlists. There are global, Shazam, most-read lyrics, and country-specific Top 100 lists for a total of 51 playlists available to US Apple Music subscribers. The Top 100 I find most interesting is the Shazam list, which is generated from 9.2 billion songs identified by the app. The top song, Dance Monkey by Tones And I was identified by Shazam a whopping 24.6 million times in 2020.

I’ve enjoyed looking through my Replay statistics for 2020 and checking out a few of the Top 100 lists, but there’s so much more Apple can do to extend its year-end lists for individual users and in aggregate. The issue is part of a broader Apple Music discovery problem that extends from the inability to track Apple Music 1 radio shows to the almost non-existent promotion of Apple Music TV. Although the situation has improved, Apple Music still needs better discovery and personalization tools to compete effectively with Spotify.