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Spotify brings free streaming to iOS and Android…well, sort of

Music service Spotify has announced free streaming on iOS and Android devices, albeit with a few limitations.

At a New York press conference yesterday, CEO and founder of Spotify, Daniel Ek not only told fans of the service and the media that the company is bigger and better than ever, but that from today (which now means yesterday) iOS and Android users will be able to gain access to their complete Spotify library and any subsequent playlists out and about on their mobile device, for free.

The main caveat here is idea of ‘shuffle play’. Premium users happy to pay for a full Spotify subscription maintain complete control over their music, whether it be on a PC, a tablet or a smartphone, but those only going so far as to partake in Spotify’s existing free desktop service will now reap similar benefits on mobile devices.

In the case of smartphones, you’re now going to be able to pick an artist or playlist of your choosing, but from that point on you’re at the mercy of ‘shuffle play’, which will playback the tracks of your chosen category in any order it sees fit, along with throwing in some ads for good measure and limiting you to six track skips per hour. Not terrible shortcomings, but for those who want more fine grain control, going fully premium is still your best move.

In the case of tablets, things are slightly different. Ek and the rest of the company acknowledged the shift is away from the desktop, towards mobile, and as such the new tablet service will operate much as it already does on your PC. Free users will have full control over what they want to listen to from their library or playlists and be able to enjoy a spot of music discovery too, but just as with the free desktop service, ads will again appear from time to time.

This timely shift in the company’s mobile strategy arrives alongside news that its service is now available in an additional 20 new regions, bringing the total to 55. What’s more, it’s still the number one music streaming service, despite European rival Deezer now moving into the US market too.

Ad-supported playback might not be what everyone want’s to hear about, but being able to stream your favourite tunes, in more places, without being tethered to your desk, for no extra cost, seems like a pretty fair deal in our book. No word yet on Spotify for Windows Phone, but we’re keeping our ears open.

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