Spotify apps hands-on

Brian Heater
B. Heater|11.30.11

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Spotify apps hands-on
The big reveal at today's "what's next" Spotify event? Apps. So, so many apps. As anticipated, the Swedish music streaming service launched its very own platform for third-party developers. The program is launching today in beta, with a number of partners, including some high profile music names like Rolling Stone and along with some relative new-comers to the scene, like SoundDrop and We had the opportunity to play around with a number of these new apps at the event, and don't let the fact that our ears are still ringing stop you from checking out our impressions after the break.
%Gallery-140703%Unfortunately, we weren't able to spend any time playing around with the app store mechanism itself, instead, the site had a baker's dozen demo stations set up on the premises, where we could use the pre-loaded versions. Once downloaded, the app's name will show up in the system's sidebar, where the playlists currently live (that content has been pushed down the page to make room for the new features). Integration with Spotify is quite seamless and, once fired up, the app lives in the main window.

Billboard's app, not surprisingly, takes a fairly straightforward approach to this integration. According to the company, the app was built rather quickly. It currently features a small handful of Billboard charts, including Hot 100, Billboard 200, Rap/Hip Hip, Country and Rock. You can play songs directly from these charts, so long as they're already playable in Spotify -- those that aren't will be grayed out. You can also subscribe to charts or share them socially. The app also includes a link that will bring you to Spotify landing page on Billboard featuring the full charts.

We Are Hunted, meanwhile, takes a more dynamic approach to charts, building them much more quickly based on things like iTunes downloads and scrobbles. The app is certainly more instantaneous than Billboard, albeit perhaps less thorough. It also offers great visuals, building the interface around large titles of band images.

SoundDrop is a brand new app that lets users build social playlists. You drag and drop songs or lists into the app and then invite people to listen. Followers can add their own and vote tracks up or down, affecting their place in the listing. The app does one of the best jobs incorporating social functionality of the current batch of apps -- think, with the adorable DJ interface.

ShareMyPlaylists, meanwhile, is more focused on external sharing, letting users build playlists on Spotify and share them on the company's existing external site, once published. Of the apps we've seen so for, this one seems less concerned than most with keeping the music listening experience inside the Spotify ecosystem.

Songkick is one of the most obvious and, arguably, welcome implementations of the platform, tracking upcoming shows based on your listening habits -- a list that is entirely editable by the user. You can also switch locations, should you be traveling and want to catch a show while you're out.

Indie rock review site Pitchfork has also jumped on the Spotify app bandwagon. Not surprisingly, its contributions are based entirely around editorial curations, offering playable versions of its "best of" lists. You can also check out the latest reviews from the site and play albums directly from those pages. While Pitchfork has previously had partnerships with sites like Lala, this is easily the deepest software integration we've seen from the site, and it will no doubt play well among regular readers.

Rolling Stone takes a similar approach as Pitchfork, not surprisingly, offering up editorial curation for users searching for some guidance. RS is a bit more selective with its reviews, however, only listing ones with three or more stars. Interested parties can read the full review and play music directly from them. The magazine has also built playlists around its sometimes controversial lists, including the recent "Best Guitarists." The app's strongest selling point, however, is probably the inclusion of curated playlists from big names like Mick Jagger and ?uestlove., meanwhile, will have a big impact on Spotify usage for a number of subscribers. As the company puts it, the app solves the service's biggest problem: how to find music. Rather than simply recreating the site in the Spotify ecosystem, the app builds an experience based around your listening, recommending songs and generating playlists built on scrobbles. You can also drag tracks into the app listing in the left-hand column to instantly generate a playlist. The app also features full artist profiles and lets you "love" your favorite tracks. This is bound to be a killer app for the service.
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