The Spotify desktop app updated to version 1.0.1 on Mac OS X this past week and, as if intentional, the developers gave me several reasons to dislike it.
IT BREAKS EXTERNAL APPS
Developed by 13bold.com, Bowtie displays various bits of information using a theme you can change based on your desktop or your whim. The theme I chose displays the song title and artist’s name in semi-transparent grey text. As the song progresses, the song title turns white. The artist’s rating is indicated using a slightly less transparent grey. It’s a subtle, pure-text theme that sits unobtrusively in the corner of my display. (Other themes will display small versions of the album cover, the ratings in stars, Play/Pause buttons, and so on.)
In its heyday Bowtie would allow you to view or control music from iTunes, Spotify, Rdio, and Sonora. I’ve tried contacting the developers via their twitter account to ask why they halted development, but I don’t hold out much hope for a reply since they haven’t used that account in almost three years.
UPDATE: Spotify v1.0.3 fixed this bug.
This app brings the functionality of Windows’ AeroPeak to Mac OS X. If I rest the cursor over an icon in the Dock, a transparent window pops up that’s a miniature version of the actual window. If you move the mouse cursor over the miniature window, a see-through version of the main window is displayed until you move the mouse out of the miniature one. This is essential if you are, for example, writing a review of Spotify and need to fact check frequently.
Spotify was treated differently by HyperDock. Hovering over the Spotify icon displayed the album artwork along with Previous, Play/Pause, and Next buttons. This functionality is gone in v1.0.1. HyperDock treats Spotify as it would any other window because of something Spotify did for its upgrade. The developers of HyperDock, bahoom.com, recognize this problem and have posted an interrum fix on their web site that will allow the two apps to play nice together once more. I’m not one to delve into the guts of an app simply to create a short-term solution so I’ll wait (confidently) for Spotify to fix their mistake.
UPDATE: Spotify v1.0.3 fixed this bug.
New Lyrics Button
A lyrics button has been added. I confess I had no idea that so many Spotify users sat or stood in front of their displays reading the lyrics to the songs they played. I’m still stunned that this feature was so desired by the Spotify Community that it was incorporated into the new version before so many other suggestions.
A quick search of the Community forum displayed only a couple of relevant entries for keyword “lyrics” and both threads are from 2012. One thread asked how to display the lyrics for songs being played and two solutions, TuneWiki and musiXmatch, were provided. Both of these solutions were available under the AppFinder section of Spotify 0.9. Sadly, there is no AppFinder section in Spotify 1.0.1. It has been removed along with 112 music related apps.
The new Lyrics button, however, is musiXmatch built into the new desktop app. The Lyrics section takes up the entirety of the center area of the updated Spotify, and yet only two lines of lyrics are displayed: the current line and the next line. Sure there’s a nice picture as a background, but you clicked that button for the lyrics, right?
I think it far more likely that people are going to choose to view the lyrics so they can, once and for all, find out what the singer is actually saying rather than host a karaoke party. In my mind, I can’t help but picture said karaoke party being hosted by the same people who think tailgating at a football game consists of actually sitting on a pickup truck’s tailgate sharing a 20-piece box of McDonalds’ Chicken McNuggets. (Yes, McDonalds made that into a television commercial.)
So I ask you, is the new Lyrics button hype-worthy since it was available as an app before?
New and Improved Friend Feed
To begin with, I have to get past that phrase “new and improved” (Spotify’s phrase of choice, not mine). Something can only be improved if it already exists. It cannot, then, be considered new. It can be “newly improved,” “recently improved,” et cetera; but never “new and improved.” The Friend Feed is definitely not new nor, in my opinion, has it been improved. I’d also like to point out that the Friend Feed changed even before v1.0.1 was deployed.
The Friend Feed once displayed all of the songs played by the people you followed, and it displayed them in chronological order with the most recent at the top. This helped me discover new music simply by listening to what others listened to. “Jerry” could listen to eight songs by six artists and I could see those songs—all of them—in my Friend Feed. That’s gone now.
The “new and improved” Friend Feed displays only the last song played by someone I follow, not all of them. I could go to their profile and see the most recent groups they played, but the individual songs are not listed. They aren’t listed anywhere anymore. I don’t see that as an improvement.
The new and improved Friend Feed is neither new or improved.
Daily Viral Charts
If you only listen to the popular songs of your favorite genre, this was custom made for you. It will display the standings of songs each day so you’ll know when to start listening to a song and when to stop listening to it. If you want others to tell you what to listen to, then you’ll love the Daily Viral Charts. Personally, I listen to music because I like it, not because everyone else does. I don’t not listen to songs because they’re popular, it just doesn’t figure into the equation.
New User Interface
I don’t know how I feel about the new interface. It looked…fresh. I guess that’s as good a word as any. At first blush, I didn’t dislike it but I didn’t use it long enough to form a solid opinion about it. When I discovered that the improved Spotify broke Bowtie, broke HyperDoc, and removed the AppFinder, I reinstalled the previous version (0.9.15.27) and disabled Spotify’s ability to update my Mac.
Since I now have the DMG file for v0.9, I’ll risk updating again in a week or two just to see if Spotify have bothered to correct any of their improvements.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Well, the bottom line is that no company is going to back down from an upgrade once they’ve released it into the wild; especially if they did so with fanfare. Spotify is no different. Oh, they may make the minor fix here and there, but this celebration of Change For The Sake Of Change will stand as is. They are large enough that they can afford to ride out the negativity until the sheep calm down and behave like sheep again. Even if every dissenting voice was a Premium subscriber and we all canceled our subscriptions, Spotify wouldn’t care. They’d gladly be rid of the naysayers. It would never occur to them that the naysayers might have valid points. For example, how can reduced functionality be considered an upgrade?
EDIT: Linda Tischler wrote an article on fastcodesign.com about the Spotify upgrade and I’m posting that link here:
I think it’s worth noting that none of the commenters were happy about the change.
UPDATE, March 19th: Spotify upgraded to v1.0.2 today but HyperDock and Bowtie integration is still not functioning.