Spotify is making two key upgrades to its free service

Technology Editor
Yahoo Finance
Spotify is improving its free offering and updates its iOS and Android apps.
Spotify is improving its free offering and updates its iOS and Android apps.

Spotify (SPOT) is finally giving its mobile app a major facelift, as part of a push to improve its free service. The new app will roll out globally to the company’s 157 million users in the coming weeks.

The Swedish company operates the largest paid music streaming service in the world, followed by Apple Music. And if it wants to hold on to that lead, it’s going to have to funnel more users into its premium offering. And as the company explained during its press event announcing improvements to its free service, the more people listen, the more they’ll spend.

To do that Spotify is rolling out an improved user experience that should entice more free users to spend the $9.99 a month on the premium version of the app.

The biggest improvements to Spotify’s free offering include 15 new on-demand playlists each day ranging from RapCaviar and Ultimate Indie to Daily Mix and Discover Weekly. Each playlist will, naturally, be built around users’ personal tastes.

You’ll also be able to listen to those playlists in any order you’d like and skip as many songs in them as often as you want. You still won’t, however, be able to do that with playlists you curate on your own. You’ll still be limited to skipping 6 songs an hour, be unable to replay songs and won’t be able to save songs for offline listening. That’s all still reserved for premium customers.

Improving discovery

Spotify says new users will no longer have to wait for the company’s algorithms to learn their tastes before they can begin making accurate recommendations. That’s because when you sign up for Spotify, you’ll now be able to identify your favorite artists. When you select an artist from the provided list, say, Kendrick Lamar, the app will give you additional recommendations.

When I picked Iron Maiden, for example, the app gave me a larger list of metal bands. The feature is similar to the onboarding process for Apple (AAPL) Music, though it seems like Spotify provides a larger list of artists and bands to choose from than Apple Music.

Spotify is also adding a new Data Saver option for users that the company says caches music you might like on your device, so you can still listen to your favorite band or musician without using too much mobile data. Spotify, however, wouldn’t say how much music it would cache on your phone or tablet, which could be an issue — especially if you’re running out of storage space on your device and every little bit counts.

Improving its free service will give Spotify more ammunition in its fight against both Apple Music and Google’s (GOOG, GOOGL) YouTube, which will soon begin trying to woo users to its premium service by adding more advertisements during free listening sessions and outlining the benefits of its premium offering such as offline listening.

A brand-new look

While the improvements to Spotify’s free offering are good news for most users, I’m more excited about the fact that the company has finally decided to give its Android and iOS apps a much-needed facelift.

I use Spotify on a daily basis and, despite that, still have trouble navigating its menus. The simple fact that the Settings page is hidden in the Library tab has boggled my mind since the first day I downloaded the app. Now Settings will be accessible from the app’s Home tab, where it should have always been.

What’s more, the company is doing away with the Radio and Browse tabs and moving them all into the Search tab. It makes for a much cleaner experience, and should prove less confusing for users.

It will be interesting to see if this new version of Spotify gives the company an even greater edge over the competition when it rolls out in the coming weeks.

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Email Daniel Howley at dhowley@oath.com; follow him on Twitter at @DanielHowley.

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