As has been mentioned again and again and again and again and again and again, Spotify's apps have, at best, been decent. Its in-house-developed mobile apps have been universally terrible. But a couple of weeks ago Spotify dropped a preview of its revamped Android app, and now arrives its new iPad app, which is everything any of its other apps are not. Clean, visual, and most importantly, thoughtfully designed.
Like many iPad apps before it, Spotify has adopted the paged app design which visibly stacks layers of the app on top of each other as you navigate deep into its belly. You start with the standard issue home page, which shows new releases, recommendations catered to your taste, and lists of what your friends are listening to. Tap an album or artist, and it brings up a new leaf. Select a song, and the player pops up in a new leaf with album art and song data. If you expand that leaf to full view you get big, beautiful artwork. You can easily backtrack at any time, and if you begin diving into another part of the app, there's a player bar running along the bottom which will let you play/pause/switch tracks no matter what you're doing. A nav bar on the right allows you to switch between search, playlists, your inbox and settings. Where the iPhone app is intended to be used on the go, the iPad app was designed for use in your living room.
That said, the app wasn't exactly silky smooth when I got my hands on it. Completely functional? Sure. But it felt like there was a little hitch in every tap and flick performed. And sure, this is the first iteration of the iPad app, but then again, the iPhone app is still buggy as hell and it has existed for a few years.
Another point of contention: Spotify on the iPad is still centered around playlists. The company is sticking to the philosophy that more people listen and interact with music via playlists as opposed to albums. For music nerds, this means the only way to browse through your music is to create playlists for every album you own, or scroll through every single song you've added to your star list. Of course, there's always search, but sometimes you're counting on serendipity to dictate you're next selection.
But as the company keeps reiterating, this is a first step. Definitely on the iPad, and hopefully on all devices. They plan to build more functionality on top of the app, and say they're considering adding features such as the ability to browse personal libraries. And if that is true, then there's reason to be hopeful Spotify will continue to inch closer to competitor such as Rdio and MOG when it comes to apps and overall UI/UX/design. [iTunes, "Spotify]