Popular streaming music service Spotify introduced Spotify Connect in September, a new feature that allows users to stream their music to a pair of capable speakers over a wireless internet connection. The feature was initially rolled out to iOS devices, but thanks to a recent update, Android users can now join the party with their $9.99/month Premium Account subscription, Engadget reports.
Let’s say a user is rocking out to his or her favorite band on their Android phone on the way home from work. Once home, the new feature allows that album or playlist to be continued on a Wi-Fi-connected home stereo system simply by tapping the speaker icon located to the right of the navigation bar, which opens up a list of devices connected to their home network available to stream music.
From Handset to Music Controller
Although the sound is emitting from an external stereo system, the user still plays DJ from the Android device. The handset allows the user to play and pause music, cue up additional tracks, and browse through the app’s extensive library. Android-driven control of one’s home stereo system is a tremendous luxury, though the number of compatible systems is still limited.
Spotify hardware partners currently include manufacturers such as Denon, Philips, Pioneer, Revo, and Yamaha. These companies offer hardware with built-in chips capable of communicating with Spotify’s technology. The good news is that more names could be added to the hardware partners list before the end of the year.
Some existing partners were not included in this particular initiative, creating a bit of confusion in some cases. Wireless speaker maker Sonos, which produces hardware for the basic Spotify service, found itself right in the middle of the controversy. “They asked us to participate, and we didn’t,” Sonos CEO John MacFarlane said in an interview with Gigaom. Instead, Sonos seems to be pushing forward with new speaker hardware that is more on par with Google’s Chromecast device.
Stacked Against the Competition
Spotify Connect isn’t necessarily a revolutionary feature. However, it carves out a competitive edge ahead of similar music-streaming technologies. For instance, Bluetooth-based systems enable devices to stream music to a single set of speakers, but this feature does so without the need for pairing, which can be rather tedious when compatibility issues come into play. Since it streams over Wi-Fi connections, users enjoy a far greater range than what Bluetooth offers, opening up opportunities for easily sharing music with friends nearby.
Spotify’s premium streaming also has an advantage over Apple’s Airplay, which allows Mac and iOS users to stream music from their iTunes libraries to select Apple equipment, but are limited to that specific task. Spotify Connect gives users the freedom to multitask—texting, answering phone calls, or whatever else they need to do, without stopping their jam session.
Spotify Connect is no doubt a cool concept, but there are some adoption barriers, mainly the cost of hardware and Wi-Fi limitations. Will cool be compelling enough to make this feature a lucrative asset users can depend on for the foreseeable future?
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