Music streaming service Spotify is updating its iOS app today with features reminiscent of two other popular apps out today, Snapchat and Tinder and their press-to-play and swiping gestures. Perhaps not a moment too soon, considering Snapchat’s potential interest in a music service of it own.
Specifically, a new Touch Preview option lets users listen to a song by pressing their finger on it; and you can now swipe left to save a song to your collection, or swipe right to add it to the current listening queue. The features will be coming to other platforms in the future, with Android next, a spokesperson tells me.
The move comes at a crossroads of sorts for Spotify on mobile. On the one hand, it’s looking to drive more usage of its mobile apps, capitalising on the fact that 52% of Spotify usage is already happening on phones and tablets among its 60 million (15 million paid) users. On the other, the very limited real estate of a phone screen, and the general problems with music discovery when you have too much choice (30 million tracks, in Spotify’s case) makes using these apps for discovery kind of a pain, leading to a reduction in how much potential use they could drive.
Spotify acknowledges this conundrum itself.
“For decades, music fans have had to rely on a rather clumsy way of scanning through songs, albums and playlists,” Sten Garmark, VP of Product at Spotify, says in a blog post announcing the new features. “With Touch Preview we’re taking music discovery to the next level, offering our listeners a unique and entirely new way of finding out what to listen to. It means less time looking for the perfect music, and more time actually listening to it.”
There are other reasons why Spotify may have been keen to add these features.
Snapchat’s press-to-action feature, whether it’s to view an image or a video, has turned into something of a goldmine for the company — one that it’s reportedly looking to charge up to $750,000 per pop to use — because when it comes to advertising, it’s a way of ensuring that users are paying attention (figuratively and literally). In the case of Spotify, it’s really to hold attention so far rather than to monetise. The company does not plan to add adds “at this time” into previews, a spokesperson tells me. But that does not rule out the option in the future.
Both the swipe and press features tap into ways of interacting with apps that are now becoming increasingly ubiquitous with a particular age group, specifically those under 30. While Spotify has built out how it serves older and more high end customers (through in-car systems, integrations with fancy hi-fi equipment and so on) adding these gestures fits with a demographic that Spotify’s increasingly trying to make sure that it continues to court — not least if Snapchat does move ahead with those music services.
This is the first time that either a press-to-play or swipe feature has been added into Spotify but not the first time to preview, which was first unveiled as a priority back in 2013 when Spotify first started to add in more social features. Interestingly, Spotify says it plans to bring the “press” feature even to non-touch devices.
“The ability to preview is already available in most aspects of Spotify. Whether it’s Browse, album or playlist view you can already preview tracks. If there are other areas where we think it might improve the service we’ll definitely look at adding Touch Preview,” the spokesperson says. “In terms of other platforms, it’s a mobile first product obviously (android will come next) but we are looking at getting it to desktop in one form or another.”