For the first time since Spotify first released an app in 2014, the company has completely overhauled its mobile experience for the more than 90 million people who tap into its free, ad-supported tier.
The revamped mobile app has a simplified interface, a lot more personalized and predictive playlist features, and a new Data Saver mode to cut down on music streaming costs for data cap-conscious users.
Most importantly for free users, there's now a curated selection of 15 playlists where you can pick specific songs and skip as many tunes as you want. You'll still encounter ads, though; only Spotify Premium is ad-free.
The changes will roll out to Spotify users in the coming weeks, but we played around with it at the launch event in New York City today; check it out below.
1 Pick Your Favorite Artists
When you first log into the updated Spotify app, you'll go through a new "taste onboarding" process of choosing favorite artists and genres. Those preferences serve as the basis of the streamlined home screen.
2 A Simplified Interface
The redesigned app includes only four tabs: Home, Search, Library, and the button to onboard you to Spotify Premium. Gone are the current Browse and Radio tabs, because those functions are all now embedded in your home feed. The demo app we looked at was curated for a user who likes Latin music and Reggaeton.
3 Pick and Play
As you scroll through the new Spotify app home screen, the 15 playlists on this page are all part of the biggest new capabilities for Free tier users: complete song control and unlimited skips.
The home screen includes your Daily Mixes, personalized playlist mainstays like Discover Weekly and Release Radar, and then a section of on-demand playlists curated by Spotify based on your data and preferences. Spotify execs said this could include popular playlists like RapCaviar, Viva Latino, Ultimate Indie, Alternative R&B, or any "editorial" playlists that match your preferences. Within these 15 playlists, you can choose individual songs and skip as much as you want. In normal browsing and custom playlists, Free users are still limited to shuffle play and six skips an hour.
4 Data Saver Mode
The other big new addition is Data Saver mode. From the top settings gear icon in the app, you'll see Data Saver in the settings menu and can toggle the feature on or off. Data Saver caches data from recently played songs on your smartphone to help data cap-conscious users consume less data when streaming music. It's an opt-in feature, so you need to go in and enable it. Spotify said it can reduce data usage by as much as 75 percent, but if you've got an unlimited data plan, you can leave this switched off and save that on-device storage space.
In the main interface, the next tab over is the search function. The search page has a new layout with different quick-access categories, but the mechanics of basic search haven't changed much. The big changes to predictive and contextual search come when you're creating custom playlists.
6 Tap the Heart to Favorite
When searching for new artists, albums, or songs, you can tap the heart icon on the top-right of any page to favorite the selection and add it to your library.
7 Creating Assisted Playlists
In the Library tab, users have been able to create playlists on mobile devices for a while. The difference is in the new AI-backed "assisted playlisting" capabilities builds machine learning into the overhauled experience. When you create a new playlist, the Spotify app will now analyze the words you input as the playlist name to give you song recommendations.
8 Contextual Playlist Recommendations
When we went through a demo of the app, the Spotify spokesperson created a new playlist called "Latin Summer Party," and on the following page was a list of suggested songs. As you begin adding songs to the playlist, the app changes the recommendations in real time to give you more tailored suggestions based on the songs you've already added. If you use the search bar itself, a preview of the song will pop up with a button to add it to the playlist.
9 Custom Playlists
Once your custom playlist is added to your library, you'll have to shuffle-play it. As mentioned, single song selection is only available in the 15 curated playlists on the home screen.
10 New Library Layout
Gone is the Spotify library's old vertical file structure. The new screen is laid out with four tabs: playlists, artists, albums, and podcasts. In the artists tab, you'll find all the bands and musicians you added during your personalized taste setup.
There's also an albums tab with all your saved choices, though once again you can see the blue shuffle icon denoting that these can still only be played with shuffle play. Only Spotify Premium users get full song control throughout the redesigned app, and of course ad-free music.
Finally, the fresh Spotify app also gives some more prominence to the platform's podcast selection. In this tab, free users can choose specific episodes. The redesigned Spotify app will be rolling out to Android and iOS users, both free and premium, over the next several weeks.