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The Best New Features in Spotify’s Big Redesign

Alyssa Bereznak
National Correspondent, Technology
Yahoo Tech
April 2, 2014

The Best New Features in Spotify’s Big Redesign

Alyssa Bereznak
National Correspondent, Technology
Yahoo Tech
April 2, 2014

Well, look who got a makeover.

Spotify revealed a slick, redesigned platform for its mobile and desktop apps Wednesday. Along with the new, darker look comes a list of improved features that Spotify says will help listeners more easily organize and discover music.

The updated design will arrive on the Spotify website, desktop player, and iPhone app for all listeners in the coming days.  

Spotify, for newcomers, is a music streaming service that gives you on-demand access to over 20 million songs across multiple devices in exchange for a monthly fee or audio ads. 

This is Spotify’s first redesign since it launched in 2008, which is kind of like 50 years in Internet time. According to director of product development Michelle Kadir, Spotify spent several months testing the new look with a select group of its subscribers.

“We sat down with our users and watched them use it,” Kadir told Yahoo Tech. “We asked them to use metaphors to describe it. Someone said, ‘It feels like I’m in a BMW.’ ”

OK, a luxury sports car it is not. But the new version is without a doubt a great improvement on a product that many have come to use for their daily listening needs.

Take our hand as we guide you through Spotify’s newest features.

Navigate more easily
Spotify’s new design is much more understated than the aging gray Winamp knockoff we were operating before. It features simplified display screens, curved buttons and icons, oversized Helvetica lettering, and responsive gray shading that pops every time you run your cursor over art. Where there was once scarcely an image or a legible string of text on our desktop players, there’s now bright splashy album artwork and titles.

The most obvious change of all, however, is the color: It’s all black, everything. After surveying Spotify listeners, Kadir said her team found that people wanted a more immersive experience. Having a bright glowing computer in a dark room might take away from, not add to, a listener’s experience. And so Spotify painted it black. 

Save music faster
Up until now, if you wanted to set aside an album, you were forced to save it to a collection of playlists. That could sometimes result in a cluttered music selection when you were on the go and looking for something to listen to real quick. The new Spotify separates playlists from your regular music collection, allowing you to save any song or album you dig with a feature called Your Music.

This organizational tool, which lives in the left column of your web player above your playlists, automatically organizes whatever music you choose to save in your catalog. To store an album, you’ll need to click the Save button that’s featured next to a record (as you can see below).

To save songs, you’ll have to click the + next to the track, which you can find to the right of a song …

… or in the bottom-right corner of the artwork in the Now Playing box on the left of your player. (Use Fiona Apple’s single arrow tear to guide you.)

Once a track or album is saved, it’s automatically filtered into a separate library, which you can sort or search by artist, title, recently added tracks, or recently played tracks. 

To the amateur music collector, the Your Music feature might seem repetitive. Why create a whole separate drawer when you could have everything in one easy-to-access stream bin? But if you’ve spent your past life thumbing through rows of CDs at Tower Records, a separate spot for your favorite recordings offers the illusion that you’re building a tangible music collection. You’ve put time into jumping from genre to genre, and you want to feel like that work has paid off. Not to mention, because Spotify offers a lot of remastered or edited versions of tracks, saving just the right version or year of a song is often clutch for hardcore fans.

Find music for your mood
In many ways, Spotify is lagging in the race to offer you the most personalized music suggestions. Earlier this year, Dr. Dre’s Beats streaming service made a splash with a platform that analyzed its subscribers’ past music collection, age, and gender to offer up ultra-tailored song recommendations. Another streaming service, Songza, just partnered with The Weather Company to fine-tune its suggestions based on subscribers’ local forecasts.

Now Spotify has revamped its Browse section to suggest music based on the time of day and country.

So if it’s before 7 a.m. on a weekday, for example, a playlist in Browse might give you a soundtrack for your dreary morning rituals. These compilations, however cool they sound in concept, are not always pulled off as elegantly as you might hope. Tuesday’s April Fools’ compilation, for example, was literally just a list of songs that contained the word “fool” in the title. 

Though the Browse feature isn’t quite as all-knowing or precise as others, Kadir says that it does learn your preferences over time.

“The more we know about the user’s likes and dislikes, the more fine-tuned the playlist,” she said.  

And that, my friend, is the new Spotify in a nutshell. The updated design and features will roll out gradually to everyone’s desktop, iPhone apps, and web players starting Wednesday. Happy listening.

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