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In what-took-them-so-long news: Spotify touts free Android, iOS music app

And now you can shuffle a stairway to heaven with Led Zeppelin deal

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Spotify has a new music-streaming application for iOS and Android tablets today that mimics its free desktop software, and a smartphone option with slightly less functionality.

Previously Spotify users had to pay $10 a month to access the music streaming service on fondleslabs and other handheld devices, but now the firm's new tablet application will allow users to pick and choose the music they want to hear from Spotify's online catalogue at no cost – provided they can put up with adverts.

Smartphone users get a slightly maimed free-but-ad-supported version of Spotify that will allow them to shuffle through their music collections and playlists, but not pick specific tracks outright. They can however create their own playlists on a mobile device and shuffle through those as well.

"Today we're giving people the best free music experience in the history of the smartphone and the tablet," gushed company founder Daniel Ek. "Whether you're going to the gym, or having a party with friends. Just sit back and let Spotify serve you great music for every moment of your life."

The lack of a gratis mobile app has been hurting Spotify in the battle with its much-larger competitor Pandora. The firm is hoping that what it's losing in revenue from making the application available without charge will bring in bigger gains in terms of market share – which will be essential if it's to justify the $4bn price tag some are suggesting it should carry if it goes public.

Spotify takes in advertising revenue from three quarters of its 24 million users who use its free software, and the firm is also expanding its global footprint. It's now available in 20 more national markets, bringing the total to 55 in all, which should help it bump up its user figures.

As an added incentive to those users of a certain age, the company also announced it has done a deal with veteran rockers Led Zeppelin to put the best of the band's back catalog on the streaming service in a staged rollout.

On Wednesday, users will get access to the seminal albums Led Zeppelin and Led Zeppelin II, on Thursday it's the run of Led Zeppelin III and the band's 1971 Untitled fourth album, while Friday will see the release of Houses Of The Holy and Physical Graffiti.

More albums will be released until Sunday but with Zep it's only the first six that are worth listening too anyway, in this humble hack's opinion. ®

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