by James A. Martin

Spotify iPad App Looks Great but Lacks Key Desktop Features

May 11, 20123 mins

The new Spotify iPad app will please fans of the streaming music service, but blogger James A. Martin gives Pandora the edge due to its music-discovery features and cheaper premium service.

Two main planets make up the streaming-music universe these days: Pandora and Spotify. I live happily on Pandora, and though I do like the new Spotify iPad app, I don’t like it enough to switch planets.

Nearly three years ago, Spotify released an iPhone/iPod touch app to enable its desktop music subscribers to stream music on their iOS devices. With the current version 0.5.0, released May 2, Spotify’s free iOS app is now optimized for the iPad Retina display. (Spotify is also available for Android, Windows Phone, BlackBerry, and Symbian phones.)

Spotify on the iPad makes good use of the larger tablet screen. For example, as you jump back and forth between the app’s Playlists, What’s New, Search, and People sections, the currently playing song shows at the bottom of the screen along with playback controls. This feature isn’t available in Spotify for iPhone or iPod touch.

Spotify iPad app

Feature-wise, Spotify on the iPad is essentially the same as it is on Apple’s smaller mobile devices. On all Apple iOS devices you can stream music to your stereo thanks to the app’s AirPlay support, listen to music curated by Facebook friends and share your playlists with them, wirelessly sync your computer’s music library to Spotify on your iOS device and more.

But as if often the case with mobile software, Spotify on the iPad lacks some important features from the music service’s desktop apps. It doesn’t support Spotify’s newly emerging ecosystem of apps, for instance. And you can’t drag and drop tracks into playlists, as you can with the desktop Spotify app.

When you first install Spotify’s iOS app, you automatically receive a free, 48-hour trial of its premium service. The service removes ads, lets you listen to playlists offline and streams music at the high bitrate of up to 320kbps on your computer.

Spotify’s premium service is $10 monthly (there’s also a $5 monthly unlimited service). Pandora, which also has an iOS app optimized for the iPad, removes ads from its service for just $36 a year. That’s a big reason why I prefer Pandora. Here’s another: By creating “radio stations” based on your favorite artists or songs, Pandora does a far better job than Spotify in helping you discover new tunes you’ll most likely enjoy. And that’s why I live on planet Pandora–with occasional visits to Spotify, of course.