Spotify for iPhone review: Finally, some progress!

I have an ongoing love hate relationship with pretty much every music streaming service available. I just want them to be better as none of them as a whole are the best. That's why I was excited when Spotify majorly overhauled their iPhone app. It was a chance to try the service out again and see if the glaring issues that push me on the Rdio side of the fence are finally remedied. Is it good enough for me to give it a second chance? More importantly, is it good enough for you, our readers, to choose it over the many available options? Let's find out...

The first thing you'll notice upon launching the new Spotify app for iPhone is the completely new look and design. It's not a bad thing either. I never particularly cared for the overwhelming amount of green Spotify chose to use in past versions so the solid black design with subtle accents and overlays was a welcome surprise. When it comes to actually navigating the app, there are very few buttons since most of the interface relies on gesture navigations. Swipe from one list to the next and so on. The top menu button always stays fixed in the top left corner making it easy to get back to your collection and main sections of Spotify in just a tap.

However, there are a few things that irk me about the new design — and I do mean only a few. First, when browsing through the artist section of the Your Music category, I don't like that it shows every artist I follow. If I don't have any songs saved by that artist, I probably don't want it cluttering up my collection. I want to drill down and find what I'm looking for quickly. Of course, the search feature is the fastest but if I'm just browsing, it's odd to me there are artists I'm following even if I don't currently have any music by them in my collection. I feel that should be a separate section.

My next and only other issue is really two issues. I'm having trouble figuring out what the point is for starred and local tracks anymore. I have offline tracks saved but they don't show up in local. I understand this is where you used to sync tracks from your computer to Spotify wirelessly but is this section really needed anymore? Perhaps I'm missing something and if I am, someone please point out what it's for, because I'm at a loss. The same goes for starred tracks. I don't see a way to star a track with the new design so why is the section still there? Is it simply to show songs I have starred in the past? Are they just stuck there for all eternity unless I had everything to my collection manually?

Aside from the above mentioned quirks, I've been finding my experience with the newly design Spotify app to be an enjoyable one. It doesn't drain my battery any faster or slower than Rdio but I do feel like there is a hugely noticeable different in sound quality. Obviously this is due to the fact that Spotify streams at 320 kbps while Rdio is supposedly only at 192 kbps, at least for now. They've already stated they're upgrading their catalog to the same but we aren't sure when that's officially happening. So for now, Spotify wins that fight and may make a switch more tempting for current Rdio users.

Unfortunately Spotify for iPad has not received the same treatment the iPhone app did. It's still the same clunky mess that's really a mirrored version of their web streaming service. Have music saved to your collection on your iPhone? Too bad, you can't access it on your iPad. It really is a terrible app and one that's in desperate need of an overhaul. I'm really hoping an iPad app revamp is on Spotify's urgent list of to do's. Right now I'd be hard pressed to recommend Spotify to anyone who streams music frequently on their iPad, no matter how good the iPhone app is.

The good

  • The design is worlds better than past iterations
  • It's obvious that great care was given to navigation, it's one of the easiest apps to navigate and explore
  • Reliable streaming and less skips or hiccups in playback, at least in my experience

The bad

  • No love for the iPad, and that app really is a mess
  • Some design quirks such as the confusing starred and local sections under the Your Music section

The bottom line

I've always had reasons in the past to stay away from Spotify, due to one irritating issue or another. This version of Spotify for iPhone is a huge improvement and shakes off most of my past complaints. Minus a few small quirks, Spotify did a great job this time around. I only wish the same could be said about the iPad app.

If you only stream music on your iPhone, the Spotify service paired with its new iPhone app won't disappoint. For those that depend on their iPads for streaming music, other options such as Rdio are still more worthy of your money.

Allyson Kazmucha

iMore senior editor from 2011 to 2015.

  • The "starring" functionality has moved into the "add to playlist" area. You click on the triple dot button next to the track, click add to playlist, and the starred playlist is there.
  • I know but what's the point? I can't even get rid of it. I didn't know if there was some special feature it offered I wasn't aware of. It appears to just be another ordinary playlist now. I liked how you could star in one tap before because it was easier than adding to a playlist if you heard something you liked while driving or when you didn't have time to mess with playlists. They buried it and made it useless it seems. :/ Sent from the iMore App
  • You can't take your collections offline. It's only available with the Starred playlist. Sent from the iMore App
  • Not true. I have many playlists available for offline. You can do this with anything. Sent from the iMore App
  • Playlists are the only ones you can take offline. Tapping on Save adds it to Your Music which is not available offline. I have to make sure I add the song to Starred (or any playlist) in order to save it to my phone. That's why having the Starred playlist is still important to me. It allows me to take everything in Your Music offline. Sent from the iMore App
  • No, you can navigate to the individual Artist or Album in My Music and there is a button on top in them to save them offline, or if you hold press any album or artist in My Music, it gives the download option.
  • I actually have been using Spotify since last year. I have a full subscription for offline playlists. Mostly use it at the gym and office. Love the recent update as well.
  • Spotify is great, but Calvin Harris sucks!
  • Local Files are not "Available Offline" songs. Local Files are for the songs that Spotify doesn't have, but you downloaded them somewhere else. You can sync them to your phone, and they'll appear in Local Files.
    For example, Skyfall by Adele is not available on Spotify in the U.S., but if you downloaded it on iTunes, you can sync that song into Spotify, and Skyfall will appear in Local Files.
  • Ahh gotcha, that's probably why I never understood that feature. Thanks! Sent from the iMore App
  • How do I do that? I currently have a couple of songs from iTunes on my phone but the Local Songs page remains empty. How do I sync them? Do I need a PC/Mac for that? Sent from the iMore App
  • You need the Spotify app on your computer too i believe. I've never done it so maybe someone else can jump in here and confirm?
  • And the app pretty much follows current android style guidelines, that should be under pros too ;-)
  • The biggest problem I have with the Spotify app is the lack of memory management. If I save music for offline use, there is no way to remove the cached music from your iDevice unless you delete the Spotify app and reinstall it. This is why I am switching to Rdio. If I remove music in Rdio from sync, it also deletes the music from my phone's memory which allows me to free up space when I need to. Spotify can't do this.
  • Ugh....really? I love the spotify off line feature...Lets my girlfriend stream at home while she's working and I can use whatever is in my offline at the same time she's on w/o disconnecting her listening. Thats a bummer about the memory..... maybe a fix down the road.
  • I like offline too! But Rdio does offline listening better IMO.
  • And bummer I was just about to start giving Spotify my money after the 30 day trial ended cause I really like the new design of the app and the way organization was changed but what you mentioned about offline that's a deal breaker. Good thing rdio is upgrading their music collection. Sent from the iMore App
  • I LOVE the redesign. I think it was necessary and well welcomed. I agree that the amount of green Spotify used in later versions was displeasing to the eyes and I'm glad they are using more gestures because the tap to do this, tap to do that, implementation got old, QUICKLY. I think Spotify is heading in the five direction with this update. Sent from the iMore App
  • Great review,
    I've felt the same exact way. Used spotify since launch moved to rdio like 2 months ago. because of all the quarks. I'm a bit worried seeing Spotify purchased echonest. I want to see how it goes. rdio is still cleaner, discounts on multiple accounts and better remote features if you ask me
  • Spotify on iPad don't bother me. Haven't used it on iPhone.
  • I have been testing it too. But I'll for sure stay with Rdio. Sent from the iMore App
  • I've been pretty happy with Rdio since Ally made her recommendation for it. I don't see a reason to switch.
  • Yeah, both services have their merits but it's really hard to beat Rdio especially since they have an iPad app that's more than a weak effort. I just can't wait until they up their streaming quality to 320 kbps.
  • Good to see Ally using Bose headphones ( from the pic ) . They are awesome and I absolutely love them and recommend them to everyone. Spotify iPad app sucks .. I agree. But I still feel that their new layout for iPhone is a huge improvement from earlier version & it's user friendly. I blv the starred option is still retained to cater to users who have started tracks earlier.. removing it completely would have been a disaster. However they need to bring back the 'star' feature. Their forums are already flooding with that user requests to bring the feature back. Sent from the iMore App
  • It's still there just buried. Which kind of makes it useless. The whole point was to star something quickly when you don't have time to file it. Sent from the iMore App
  • Edit: * starred tracks earlier * and not 'started'. Sent from the iMore App
  • There's still no way to reorder playlists. It would be great to be able to put your favorite playlists at the top rather than have the most recently added be at the top. Or at least default to alphabetical order. Right now, you have to rely on visual memory for the location of certain playlists if you have many playlists. And the redesign made that more difficult with the dark background and smaller album art. Sent from the iMore App
  • I've always found the Spotify interface to be a complex, convoluted, unintuitive mess. The latest iOS iteration is possibly the worst yet. With so many similar yet different ways in the UI ways to find music, all completely impenetrable and illogical, I wonder how anyone finds what they're looking for. With iTunes Radio still nowhere to be seen in the UK, and iTunes Match completely broken, I'm tempted to give Google Music All Access a try. I've been using Google Music's matching service recently and it actually works (unlike iTunes Match), and it's free. Plus it streams pretty much instantly, again, unlike iTunes Match.
  • I agree the organizational aspect could use some work. I think it's better this time around actually. But Rdio and beats music do a better job at this. Sent from the iMore App
  • It would be nice to have the ability to save playlist and make it available offline at once with one click, now it needs a ton of browsing to do that.
    And the ability to edit/rearrange playlists and edit/move/rrearrange songs within playlists. In general they need a good usability professional.
  • You can. There is a toggle underneath each and every playlist. Sent from the iMore App
  • I ditched Spotify this year because of the app design, load time, and lack of collections(which they promised over a year ago). Certain functions were too difficult to find (shuffle, for example). I loved Rdio's design and shifted my dollars accordingly. I appreciate that I can continue to play with the Spotify iPhone app, but I will give Rdio at least a year with my money and see what they do with it. Rdio's desktop is severely lacking however. Big feature missing that I need is offline playback on the desktop. I've also found Spotify to have a slightly more superior catalogue and better search. Sent from the iMore App
  • Shuffle hard to find? Seriously? There's a giant button for that on every playlist, or in the player mode you hit the good old shuffle button (symbol).
  • On the old app, not the new one. There was as least an extra press or 2. Same with Airplay but they did fix that. Sent from the iMore App
  • Spotify STILL will not let you delete radio stations that you created. How is that possible in 2014? Deletion can't be more than a few lines of code at the most. And they offer no good answers as to why in their support forums. It's little things like that that keep me a loyal customer of Rdio.
  • Yes, you can. On the iPhone app, you touch a station and hold until you can see the X so you can delete it. On the desktop version, you can see the X as you hover the mouse over the station.
  • YES!! They finally added it! Thanks.
  • I've gone back and forth between Rdio and Spotify. I finally settled on Spotify and I've been happy with it. The thing that turned me off if Rdio is the "Heavy Rotation" home screen. I hate it bit can't avoid seeing it there every time I opened the app. Sent from the iMore App
  • And still no access to the play queue. I tend to listen by searching for songs or whole albums and queuing them up one after the other. MOG was awesome for listening this way, but while you can add songs to the queue in Spotify, you can't actually see or edit it. People have been asking for this feature on the Spotify official forums for almost 2 years now and still nothing.
  • I haven't had an Rdio subscription for a while does anyone know if with the app is there a way to shuffle all the songs in your library? I saw that Spotify does that and I love it. Sent from the iMore App
  • Awesome just discovered that to shuffle all the songs in your collection there is a station called collection that will play all the music in it. W00T alright Rdio here I come again! Sent from the iMore App
  • I've been using spotify since it's early days and I love it! Sent from the iMore App