8 Ways Spotify’s UX Doesn’t Make Sense

I’m a huge fan of Spotify. The last year they’ve been pushing out some incredible features the last couple years — Release Radar, Discover Weekly, the radio that continues after a playlist or album is over. All of thesemake finding new music that I’ll like easy and seamless. They’ve also added a lot of nice little UX features — a new dot below the shuffle/repeat options to indicate if they are on, redesigning the play bar on desktop to give a bit more space. All that being said, there’s still a few very confusing product choices that could use some improvement.

Better Cross-Platform Support

Spotify has some incredible cross-platform support (no doubt to minimize sharing of accounts), but it stops just short of being actually useful. Here’s a couple examples:

Better casting support across platforms. You can’t connect the MacOS client to a Chromecast, but you can with an iPad or Android device. Once you start the cast on a mobile device, you can then control playback from your laptop, but you still need to start it on a mobile device. What? Why?

Searches also don’t show up across devices. Google, Facebook, and eBay have all figured this out. Users love their search history, and love being able to have the same search history regardless of what device they were using. Spotify keeps it, but only on the device, so if you’re trying to remember that band you searched for on your phone next time you’re listening on your computer, good luck.

Hide My Half-Complete Searches

Spotify has a pretty impressive autocomplete. It’s so great, I actually use it almost all the time. Unfortunately, when you tap on that empty search bar, all they saved was “pi” instead what I actually clicked through to (Pitbull, obviously).

Facebook has this figured out pretty well — when you complete a search selecting one of their autocomplete suggestion, rather than showing you some half completed name they just show what you actually clicked on. It would be great if Spotify would do this, which would also eliminate an unnecessary tap to view search results for “pi” and just get me straight into some Pitbull.

Better Offline Support

Spotify has a fantastic feature that allows you to download music to your device for offline listening. Great! But try to actually listen to what’s downloaded, and you’re hosed.

What does “My Library” even mean? Have you actually tried to use Spotify’s library feature? Maybe some folks have it better set up than I do, but for me it’s a bit of a nightmare.

Let’s take an example. I have a playlist that I’ve added several albums in their entirety to. I’ve set the playlist to be available offline (which means those albums are available offline). If I just wanted to listen to one of those albums by itself, you might think that it would show up in my album list, right?

You would be wrong. The actual categorizations in your Spotify library (song, artist, albums, playlists) are treated distinctly from the music that you actually have — none of those albums on my playlist show up in the album view (unless you save each one or specifically add it to your library) and can only be played by playing from the playlist.

This is incredibly counterintuitive for anyone who’s used a music app for offline play in the last decade+. Most users probably use search (I generally do when I’m online), however…

Search doesn’t work in offline mode. For whatever reason, Spotify’s search feature requires an internet connection. That means there’s no way for me to actually see if I downloaded Charli XCX’s “Boys” unless I can somehow manage to find it on whatever playlist I forgot I added it to in the dumpster fire that is the offline library. Search is now a default access pattern, and it’s bizarre as to why Spotify doesn’t add support for it in offline mode.

Consistency in downloading. This just might be some buggy behavior in the iPad app, but after trying to download a bunch of music on a brief connection to the internet while on vacation, I opened Spotify the next day to find that most of it was not actually downloaded.

I know there’s some weirdness with iOS and background downloading, but it’s very frustrating to think you downloaded some music (and the download switch was toggled) to find out once you won’t be online for another week that you didn’t actually download anything.

Offline scrobble support. I’m a huge fan of Last.fm, and try to scrobble everything I listen to. I was recently on vacation for two weeks without internet access, and listened to at least 80 hours of music. Spotify supports online scrobbling, but as soon as you go offline that history disappears. They must be tracking listens for royalty reasons, why can’t they also push to Last.fm?

Fix the Whole “Queueing” Feature

The last three offices I’ve worked in and a number of parties I’ve attended have had a speaker that was attempted to put a collaborative playlist on. This was generally managed by having a computer set to Spotify, and people would go and queue up songs they wanted. Except no one really understands how the queue in Spotify works. And collaborative playlists are a bit difficult when you have more than 10 people trying to access it.