Android App Review: Spotify

Spotify for desktop is a revelation in music, I’m sure you’ve heard about it, but if not check it out on the official website. Basically, it gives you free streaming tracks from their entire music library, which at the time of this post stands at over 8 million tracks and counting. The free streaming is supplemented by ads, but the premium subscription has no ads, as well as a significantly higher streaming bitrate.

Ok so on with the review. Let’s get the cost out of the way first. The actual android app is free to download from the market, however, to sign into this app and use it you must be a premium subscriber. Premium subscriptions are £9.99 a month, and you are able to cancel any recurring payments if you want to try the service for the month. I’d like to note here that they also offer a 12-month subscription, but strangely do not offer any discount on the monthly price for taking out the longer plan.

Once you have the subscription, along with the ability to use the mobile app, you also get some desktop benefits as mentioned previously including the offline playing of your playlists, no advertisements and a higher quality of stream (320kbs). For a full list of the premium, desktop benefits are sure to check the Spotify t&c’s.

Ok onto the Android app. The app is approx. 1.44mb in size, a fairly average sized app when compared to equivalent apps on the market. The market listing shows a number of features the app includes:

– Playing and synchronizing local files
– Last.fm scrobbling
– Inbox
– Feed
– Top tracks
– Starred tracks
– Library
– Filter for tracks in playlists

So let’s expand on a few of these:

Playing and synchronizing local files

Spotify mobile allows you to store playlists offline, meaning that the tracks will be stored (in an encrypted manner) on your phone for you to listen to whilst not connected to the internet, this is great news as it means you can listen to your music when not in a suitable 3G area, when abroad or simply when you don’t want to use your data allowance streaming music. You are able to store up to 3,333 tracks at any one time on your phone provided you have space on your sd card.

Other than this you can also use Spotify to synchronize with your Kodi device. Here is an article on Kodi on smart TV guide to run Spotify on Kodi running directly on the smart TV.

Inbox

The latest version of the Desktop Spotify allows you to link up with friends also using Spotify via facebook. You are able to drag and drop tracks to share with your friends. Items you share will become available in your friend’s inbox and vice versa, and the mobile app fully supports this feature really making Spotify an extremely sociable tool, especially if a lot of your Facebook friends are using the app too. It’s worthy to note here that users of the free desktop app also get this feature on their desktop applications, so not limiting the number of friends to only those with the paid app.

Feed

This lets you see what your friends have been listening to recently, and clicking on the feed items lets you play that particular track. The app fully syncs with the desktop application, including all your playlists and starred tracks, with chances to either application being seen within seconds on each installation.

Home

As mentioned before, the Android app looks very good, the UI is extremely sophisticated and you can tell from the look that this is a premium app. Let’s take a look at the Home page, the first page you when upon opening the app. Here you can see 3 tabs showing a number of different items. You have the recently added albums to Spotify first, the top played tracks followed by your personal feed.

Playlist

The playlist button along the bottom of the screen shows your inbox, library (all tracks in any playlist), your starred tracks, your local music and all of your current playlists. The local music is an interesting feature, listing all the music on your phone that is not part of Spotify. You are able to fully integrate your own music collection within Spotify, adding your own tracks to Spotify playlists, rating them, etc. You can easily set a playlist to be available offline here by either long pressing a particular playlist, or going into the batch mode and ticking all those you wish to be available offline.

Search

The search option allows you to search the massive Spotify library of over 8 million tracks by track, album or artist name. The search is ok, but not fantastic. To give an example searching for ‘Blink 182’ found no results, with the actual band being listed as ‘blink-182’. This is an area they could improve upon as it currently only seems to search for exact matches, not great if you are unsure of spelling.

Now Playing

The now playing screen is very well made, again giving a very sophisticated UI including the ability to swipe the album art to navigate tracks and giving easy access to finding more tracks/albums by the now playing artist. This screen also gives you the option of repeating all and shuffling your tracks.

Settings

There are a small number of settings, but the settings that are offered are extremely useful. Giving you the ability to completely force offline mode ensuring you will never pay any streaming bandwidth charges, syncing options over 3G or WiFi and setting the quality of music over streaming and via those tracks synced to your sd card.

Conclusion

Overall I really rate the Spotify app and the service it provides. Having access to over 8 million tracks in the palm of your hand anywhere that you have a network connection is incredible, this together with the ability to store tracks on your sd card make it fully worth the £9.99 a month fee, especially if you use the desktop application too. I’ve found the ability to start a song, or quickly create a new playlist at work that is then instantly available on my phone on the train journey home, and on my home PC when I get home something I’m not sure I can live without, especially when the tracks in that playlist can be one of any 8 million tracks. The performance over 3G is also extremely good, especially taking into consideration you can change the stream quality if in a poor network area. I have found that the buffering is good enough to ensure that there is minimal if any loss in playback if losing connection for a few seconds too, and that gets a thumbs up from me.

QR Code (What Am I?):

On your mobile? Click me to go straight to the app on the market!

Rating:

*TIP: Once synced offline, you are able to play the tracks for 30 days without having to come back online, meaning if you sync the day before your final day, you get a whole extra month to listen to your 3,333 tracks 😉

As ever any questions go below and I’ll do my best to answer!…

How To Upgrade Your Desire to Stock Android 2.2 Froyo

Ok, so we are all waiting for HTC to release their update to the HTC Desire, offering us the holy grail that is Android 2.2, otherwise known as Froyo. There is, however, a way to get this right now, albeit without the Sense interface. Oh yeah, and you need to be rooted, thankfully I also have a guide for that too 😛

Follow the jump! Updated 09/07/2010: New information for Orange branded phones.

Ok, first things first, the disclaimer. It is very very unlikely that something will go wrong, nevertheless, $h#t happens, so please follow instructions carefully, unfortunately, I cannot take any responsibility for anything that may go wrong following this procedure.

Next, you need to be rooted before you follow this guide. So follow this guide if you are not already rooted. Carefully read the bootloader bit. If your phone is not compatible just search the internet, there will be another guide out there for you.

Third, this guide as it stands now will install the defrost, Froyo Rom. We would be nowhere without the android rooting community, so please say thank you to richardtrip for creating this ROM.

!IMPORTANT! If you have an Orange branded ROM, READ ME

Ok, to use version 2.0 or above (ROMS that require the flashing of a new radio), you basically need to purchase an unlock code:

  1. Pay to sim unlock your phone. I recommend Express Codes (e.g. This listing). £8.99 and you’ll have your phone unlocked inside 5 minutes.
  2. You need to apply this unlock code on a non-custom ROM:
    That means either a non-rooted ROM
    OR
    The rooted 2.1 ROM you flashed as part of my original root guide.
  3. This means unlock BEFORE applying any 2.2 ROM to your phone.
  4. If you have already flashed a 2.2 ROM, simply reflash the rooted 2.1 ROM you previously had, an easy way of doing this is to simply restore the android backup you promised to make before applying any ROM.
  5. If you also flashed the new radio, then you will also need to flash this radio to go back to the radio you were previously running: 32.30.00.28U_4.05.00.11.zip

Of course ,if you are a cheap skate, you can simply flash the 1.8 ROM instead:

  • Follow the guide, but do not flash the radio (skip step 12) and use the 1.8 version of deFrost ROM instead of the 2.0 version.

Right, lets see the guide (it’s really simple!):

  1. Make sure you are rooted, please.
  2. Download the latest radio update: 32.41.00.32U_5.08.00.04.zip
  3. Download the latest Full ROM: DeFroST_2.0a.zip
  4. Put both of these on your phones sd card, or even better, download from your phone on this site 🙂
  5. READ #4 IMPORTANT
  6. I will update this guide with the latest versions of the above files, please do not mix and match unless you KNOW EXACTLY what you are doing. You will be able to update without this guide in the future anyway, its easy once you know how :p
  7. CARRY ON to #6
  8. Download the app called Titanium Backup from the market. Click Backup/Restore > Menu > Batch > Backup all user apps + system data. Wait for this to finish.
  9. Go to the android market on your phone and download the app called: ROM Manager
  10. Open this app, click Flash Clockwork Mod Recovery, select HTC Desire.
  11. Press OK once you get the successful message
  12. Still, in the app, click Install ROM from SD Card
  13. Choose the 32.41.00.32U_5.08.00.04.zip you downloaded earlier.
  14. **IMPORTANT* Select Backup Existing ROM. This will provide you with an exact backup of the current state of your phone (A Nandroid backup) **IMPORTANT*
  15. Press OK and sit it out.
  16. When the phone loads up again, open up ROM Manager and click Install ROM from SD Card
  17. Select the DeFroST_2.0a.zip you downloaded earlier.
  18. Try NOT SELECTING Wipe Data and Cache first, if you run into problems then redo step #16 and select Wipe Data and Cache
  19. Press OK and sit it out again.
  20. See #21
  21. DONE!

I told you it was easy right? In the future simply download the latest ROM, or any compatible ROM, place on your sd card, and flash using ROM Managers install ROM option. Just promise me you will backup your current before doing so ok?

What next then?

Black notification bar

Download this file: DeFroST_2.0_Black_Status_Bar.zip and place it on your sdcard.
Open ROM Manager app on your phone.
Click Install ROM from SD Card
Select the DeFroST_2.0_Black_Status_Bar.zip file.
Press OK and wait until the phone boots back up
et voila!
If you want to restore the old notification bar, simply reflash the main ROM

Comfortaa Fonts (Replace your system font with the much better-looking ones)

Download the fonts file: Comfortaa_font-signed.zip and place on your sd card
Open ROM Manager app on your phone.
Click Install ROM from SD Card
Select the Comfortaa_font-signed.zip file.
Press OK and wait until the phone boots back up
Did you get the hang of it now right? :p
If you want to restore the old font, simply reflash the main ROM
Things to bear in mind.

If you used the apps2sd method in my original root guide (or any other guide), and your apps are currently stored on an ext partition on your sd card, then you don’t have to do to anything different regarding installing apps. The phone will say your apps are stored internally, but they will actually be stored on your sd card in the ext partition as per normal root.

Personally, I prefer this way, rather than the new way of storing apps on sd card. The new way app devs have to allow you to store apps on sd card, and it all gets messy. The old rooted way is better (This is why I am not giving any info on how to use default froyo a2sd)
Always do a nandroid backup (Backup Existing ROM) before flashing any new ROM, you will thank me if it ever goes wrong.…