updated 06:00 pm EST, Thu February 23, 2012
New update smooths transitions between songs
The music service Spotify has answered a few of its more common missing features with a desktop app update. The latest version brings gapless playback and track-to-track crossfading to its subscribers on both Macs and PCs (free, OS X, Windows). The new update also incorporates several performance enhancements.
Gapless playback lets music being streamed to transition from one song to the next without any noticeable silence in between, much like physical discs and more recent digital music players. Spotify has set it to be always on as a default. Programmable crossfading lets listeners set how long one song can be heard fading out as the next song is brought in to full volume. The length of the interval can be from one to 12 seconds.
Spotify has given overall improvements to the user interface. Browsing between artists has been sped up. Sorting albums and top hits also has been improved. The company has added a new save and restore capability to the "Now Playing" function. The Subscribe, Buddy list, and Favorites options have been been given minor improvements. Premium users are now offered a "hide purchase button" option if they intend to mostly stream and want to clean up the interface.
Spotify is available in 12 countries including the US, UK, Sweden, Finland, Norway, Denmark, France, Switzerland, Austria, Belgium, The Netherlands and Spain. The streaming music service claims to have ten million users, including three million paying subscribers.
There are three levels of service. The base offering, with advertising, is free. An unlimited $5 service is ad-free and offers unlimited streaming on the desktop. The $10 premium subscription provides listening access from a mobile device as well as offline caching.