It’s Finally Here: Spotify Launches Its Long-Awaited iPad App

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Today, Spotify is releasing its long-awaited iPad app — finally giving Apple tablet users, who also have a Spotify Premium (paid) subscription, a native route to accessing its 17-million song catalog.

It will be worth seeing whether pent-up demand for the app will translate into a rush of downloads and usage, in the same way that Spotify saw around its (also long-awaited) U.S. launch last year. On the back of that, the U.S. has become Spotify’s fastest-growing market, with the company projected to make $889 million in revenues this year on a global user base of 13 million people and counting.

In an interview last month, Spotify’s CEO Daniel Ek noted that the company’s entire focus is on growth. “That is priority one, two, three, four and five,” he said. The company currently has 3 million users of its premium services, and the launching of this iPad app is a natural progression in the strategy to grow that number.

But while Spotify, with its emphasis on unlimited streaming rather than downloading, has been a game changer in digital music, this tablet app may not totally live up to that description.

On the positive side, the app benefits from the predictive search that Spotify’s iPhone app sorely lacks. And the iPad app is an improvement in other ways over Spotify’s the iPhone app, largely because of the tablet form factor. For example, in full-screen mode you get big buttons to control music playing. And you can search for playlists, users and music all from the same page view. AirPlay integration lets users link up the app with compatible stereo equipment to extend the experience beyond the app.

But there are some negatives, too. Perhaps most importantly, the overlaid interface looks confusing, and retina cover art can’t be shown entirely full screen. Spotify’s tablet edition, in that sense, feels more like a translation from the desktop version. And in one key way, the iPad app lacks in comparison: it does not feature Spotify’s app platform.

So while there have been some apps created to help with a perennial problem of Spotify’s — discovery — you don’t get them here. Not today, at least. Also, there is no automatic way of seeing what you’ve been listening to most lately.

We’ve been waiting long for this app, with Spotify only promising up to now that it was “in the works,” so the company does get points for its video poking fun at the late launch. But in the end, Spotify for iPad still seems to lag behind MOG and Rdio’s tablet apps.