Spotify for Android is getting an overhaul, and the preview version is mighty impressive indeed. The radically altered interface is a dream to use, and crams in tons of great features, including improved social integration for sharing top tunes with your mates.
The main page is brilliantly simple, giving you a list of your Spotify playlists and nothing else. You can download your faves to your phone to carry with you wherever you go, avoiding those massive data charges and giving you full access even when you're stuck on a sweaty tube. Downloading a song takes just 2-4 seconds over Wi-Fi, and we grabbed a list of 100 songs in under five minutes. Nice.
As before, you can minimise the Spotify app and keep listening while messing around with other apps, browsing the web and so on. If you want to get back to Spotify, just pull down your notification bar and tap the entry. Similarly, if you're listening to your music while messing around in other parts of the app, and you want to pause or skip the current track, just tap the ‘now playing' bar at the bottom of the screen and the player options pop up. It's all perfectly seamless and slick.
The ‘now playing' screen gives you access to all the obvious options, allowing you to repeat or shuffle your tracks, share what you're listening to, and check out more music from the album or artist. The artist's top tracks and similar artists are listed, as they are in the Spotify PC app, and you get high-res cover art to brighten up the menus.
The main screen may be basic, but swipe across from the very left edge of the screen and you get a whole new menu. This allows you to search the massive Spotify music database (with near instantaneous results), check out new additions and show off your fantastic musical tastes (or not so much, if you're a Bieber fan).
We particularly like the ‘what's new' section of the new Spotify app, which not only recommends albums based on your existing playlists, but also shows you what your buddies have been listening to. You can subscribe to their playlists with just a tap, and conveniently contact them with friendly suggestions/abuse. It's also easy to grab the tunes you like - just press and hold on a track, and you get the option to add it to one of your own playlists, share it, and see other tunes by that artist.
The new Spotify app looks ultra-slick thanks to its well-designed menus and high-res photos, and offers a smooth, intuitive way of enjoying music. It's a quality package and Spotify is hoping to cram in some extra features, such as Last FM support, before the app goes live. Watch this space.