With regard to music playback, Spotify is updating its app to solve a long-standing user issue, but it will cost users money to access the update. The business revealed today that it would finally add a separate Play Button and a Shuffle Button at the top of album playlists to make it simpler to play the music how you like. This will take the place of the previous combined button, which was inconsistent between platforms and difficult to operate. Streamers might be disappointed to see that what should be an app update to improve usability is weirdly being pitched to them as a reason to upgrade to Spotify’s paid tier—the business claims that the new button is only available to Spotify Premium customers.
Given that user complaints have correctly highlighted a problem with the Spotify app’s general design and user experience, this decision appears odd. The button provided was even varied among Spotify’s apps, as one reviewer who commented last year to the community forums had highlighted. On mobile devices, the play/shuffle button was integrated with the play button, however, on desktop computers, the play button was just a conventional play button. The post noted that users who migrated between platforms found this to be perplexing. Instead of requiring users to tap into the Now Playing screen to enable or disable Shuffle mode, the user proposed Spotify offer two different buttons so users could select how they wished to stream music.
Pages of supportive comments were left on the post, which gained 647 upvotes. On the forum website, there were other similar complaints as well. Similar requests for distinct Play and Shuffle buttons have been made by other people, as have proposals for alternative approaches to the same issue. For instance, one customer requested that Spotify let users choose which button showed within the app so that it was their decision.
For quite some time, Spotify has been addressing this issue. It originally launched the Shuffle/Play icon in 2020 to simplify streaming, according to the company, and last year made the Play Button the default button for all albums for Spotify Premium subscribers (as you may remember, at Adele’s request). With this update, the Play Button will still be the default while the Shuffle option will now be available only on mobile Spotify.
It’s really just a button, so it might be argued that this is a modest update to the app, but consumers will undoubtedly see it as a repair for a problem rather than a pricey feature. For example, separate Play and Shuffle buttons are already present in other popular music streaming apps like Apple Music and Amazon Music.
Particularly when the update was made because customers were dissatisfied with the app’s functioning and design, it’s unusual for app developers to charge for something like a new button. Twitter Blue, a subscription service that enables users to add custom buttons to the app’s bottom bar, might serve as a fairly comparable illustration. However, in that situation, personal choice and easy access to favorite features — not usability — are the options that matter most. Twitter’s features are still simple to access in the main menu on the left side of the app, even without having to pay.
Spotify explains that its decision to charge for the button has to do with how it views the advantages of a Premium Subscription. The ability to listen to any music they choose, on demand, is essentially what Premium customers are paying for. By giving users the option to pick how they wish to listen on-demand, the button functions as a kind of extension of that.
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