While the streaming service didn’t reveal the arrival of its hi-res music tier at today’s Stream On event for creators, it did unveil its most significant redesign in a decade. The update not only gives the mobile app’s Home page a new scrolling, image-heavy, interactive visual look reminiscent of TikTok and Instagram, but it also adds several new discovery-based features for music, podcasts, and audiobooks.
The new look and features for users — some of which will be available to everyone and others will be subscription-only — were highlighted early in the presentation at the Stream On event, even though the main focus was on new tools and resources for musicians, podcasters, and audiobook authors. First and foremost, the Home screen now features dynamic elements such as video clips, audio previews of songs, playlists, albums, podcast episodes, and more, replacing the previous static image and album art-based design.
Also unveiled at the event was a feature called “Smart Shuffle,” which, according to Spotify, will give playlists new life by recommending songs that match the mood of the playlist. There’s also an option called “Autoplay for Podcasts,” which will play another podcast similar to the one you just finished listening to. However, Smart Shuffle will be accessible only to paying customers.
These additions work in tandem with Spotify’s recently announced DJ feature, which uses artificial intelligence to generate commentary in the form of a DJ’s voice (in this case, Xavier “X” Jernigan, Spotify’s head of cultural partnerships) in order to further customise the radio-like music recommendations the service makes for you.
After showcasing these collections, the app will show off the brand new AI DJ function, which is currently only accessible to Premium users in the United States and Canada. The DJ makes use of generative AI and an AI voice that sounds completely natural to present its musical selections and provide context about the artist, song, or album. (More information on the DJ section is available on this page.)
The song previews can be listened to as you scroll down the page. These make use of the artist’s existing Canvas video, the brief looping clips of video that play whenever the artist’s music is streamed in the app right now, and present them as full-screen videos. Spotify claims the format has already been a huge success, leading to more listens, shares, saves, and adds.
Canvas also allowed Spotify to try out a TikTok-like feed, which the company has been toying with for some time. (In 2021 and 2022, TechCrunch reported on various trials of a vertical feed in its app. In retrospect, Spotify may have been more critical of these trials than it was at the time because it treated them as just another of its many experiments. And just recently, a YouTube-like video feed reminiscent of TikTok was discovered in the beta version of Spotify’s mobile app that was sent out to the company’s TestFlight beta testers.
A big difference
Up until now, playlists have been Spotify’s primary and, in many ways, only means of discovery. However, the new design places a much greater emphasis on introducing you to new music.
This is especially relevant in the podcasting industry, where Spotify has made substantial investments. Although Ek has admitted that he was wrong to put so much stock in emerging forms of audio and the company has reduced its staff in this area, he has no plans to slow down.
Increased individualization via AI may also be noticeable in the latest version of Spotify. Don’t forget DJ, the AI spinning records and hosting your own personal radio show, and the Smart Shuffle feature, which temporarily adds tracks to your existing playlists as an improvement on the “just for you playlist” idea Spotify has been working on for years.
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As the industry leader, Spotify remains committed to expanding its audio ownership. That’s what the redesign is all about, proving that Spotify is no longer just a music app and therefore shouldn’t look like one, nor, one hopes, like a chaotic jumble of content.
The company released a new feature in 2021 called “Enhance,” which suggested additional songs to add to a previously created playlist. Previously, manual curation of these recommendations was required of Spotify Premium users; now, this process can be automated.
As your playlist plays, you can select the new “Smart Shuffle” option to have Spotify’s recommendations automatically added to the queue. (A glimmering star will denote the suggested tunes). If you like a song, you can add it to your playlist by pressing the plus button. A minus sign can be tapped if you don’t like it, by the way.
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