Feeds

Spotify on iPhone: nice app, but no multitasking

A fatal flaw?

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

Review The Spotify application for the iPhone extends the usefulness of the service greatly - at the cost of a tenner a month. However the app has one show-stopping flaw: you can't play music when the application is in the background.

This is not a hindrance shared by the iPhone or iPod Touch's default music application - and even on the earliest iPods, you could play Blocks or check your diary while music continued to play. For some this may merely be an irritating quirk, but for others it could be a deal-breaker. The whole point of getting a top-of-the-range music player is for its versatility.

The free player is available to all through the Apple App Store - it asks for your Spotify user name and password when it's first run. If you're a Premium member, you're in.

Grab music to play locally using "offline playlists"

The application allows you to cache your Spotify playlists, and for the enormous "celestial jukebox" music library to be perused, and songs played on demand, locally over a WiFi 3G connection. Such is the simplicity, that it'll take you longer to read this page than it will to find your way around Spotify's iPhone app. There are three tabs, the first two of which are Playlists and "Search", (which I found was only spasmodically available over 3G connections). The third is the About / Settings box, called "More".

Playlists can be added and deleted on the fly - which makes it a smarter client than the iPhone's native music player, as this welcome feature is missing from iPods. You can even change the order. It was possible, however, to manipulate the playlists regardless of whether the connection was 2G, 3G or Wi-Fi. Unlike the desktop, playlists can't be shared, nor can the URL or URI of the song be extracted.

From the Playlists tab, you can then select which lists to synchronize locally. The playlists are then populated in the background if you have an active WLAN connection. There is little control over when or how these downloads occur. I found that with an active WLAN connection, the local downloads began immediately. With just a 3G connection available, they didn't. Unfortunately, no indication at all is given - for example, "connect to a Wi-Fi network to download these songs."

Tap the cover art to bring up a few more options

My first attempt to use Search over 3G was flawless - and incredibly, songs began playing immediately, and could be skipped, with very low latencies. This is a hallmark of the Spotify desktop app, and the engineers have managed to reproduce the experience on a mobile. Or at least sometimes. At other times even with 5 bars of 3G, the Search was mysteriously greyed out and unavailable. Similarly there's no explanation offered to the user.

Over the page: is it any good?

HP ProLiant Gen8: Integrated lifecycle automation

More from The Register

next story
BBC goes offline in MASSIVE COCKUP: Stephen Fry partly muzzled
Auntie tight-lipped as major outage rolls on
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple fell into IBM's arms
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
White? Male? You work in tech? Let us guess ... Twitter? We KNEW it!
Grim diversity numbers dumped alongside Facebook earnings
HP, Microsoft prove it again: Big Business doesn't create jobs
SMEs get lip service - what they need is dinner at the Club
Bose says today IS F*** With Dre Day: Beats sued in patent battle
Music gear giant seeks some of that sweet, sweet Apple pie
Amazon Reveals One Weird Trick: A Loss On Almost $20bn In Sales
Investors really hate it: Share price plunge as growth SLOWS in key AWS division
Dude, you're getting a Dell – with BITCOIN: IT giant slurps cryptocash
1. Buy PC with Bitcoin. 2. Mine more coins. 3. Goto step 1
There's NOTHING on TV in Europe – American video DOMINATES
Even France's mega subsidies don't stop US content onslaught
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.