Over six years ago I started using an application called Spotify. I was in awe of it when it launched I called it "like having God's iTunes" which is not only perfectly apt way of describing what the service introduced to a massive audience, but a rather funny comment from an athiest. It was brilliant and the upstart, pushign a new type of consumption that had yet to break into the main stream.
Over the years that I have been using Spotify (and the £££s that I have been ploughing into them) the service has gone from strength to strength, changing and challenging the way that music is consumed and the way that people listen to music almost entirely. I listen to Spotify as a complement to Google Play Music where the music I own is stored. Spofity for me is about discovery and social sharing of music that I am discovering, along with listening to stuff that I don't own either ahead of getting it or old stuff that I've lost in the mists of time.
There are several features that make Spotify my favourite streaming service; I've used Pandora, Deezer, Grooveshark (not technically legal) and Google Play Music All Access, but Spotify is the "best" for me because of the features that the desktop client offers and the Android app actualy works fairly well on my machine (which is something that loads of people complain about, mind you). But a few weeks ago my desktop client got an update to the latest and version and it fucked itself. And it's not just me.
So, in interests of getting these frustrations off my shoulder and to rant a bit, here's what they fucked.
I hate the word "apps" and have for a long time. I cringe when someone calls something on a computer an "app", like Spotify, because it seems needless babying of what we already had a name for. I get it on phones and tablets as they are self-contained wee units that run on their own. Back in 2011 Spotify introduced apps into their desktop client that allowed developers to install applications like HTML built services into the client. I used Songkick, Pitchfork, Classify, Last.fm and others over my time, and they're great. In fact, I used to read Pitchfork reviews almost exclusively in the app.
And then Spotify got rid of them wholesale. Just removed it. They said that the feature wasn't worthwhile and the whole system was entirely removed. Weird. Such a value-adding feature removed entirely.
Closing on "X"
This, above all features, has fucked me off the most. Previously (since 2008) the X in Windows has not closed Spotify - instead it sends it to the System Tray / Notification Tray, where an icon appears. The X feature was so built in that when in the latest update they changed the behaviour to actually EXIT Spotify when clicking it I assumed that it was a bug that was crashing the client on minimising. But no, this behaviour - one that has been ingrained into my mind since 2008 and is actioned on average probably somewhere between 30 and 50 times a day was changed to do the opposite.
On top of this the system tray icon is dead too - if you right click on this you get a really neat menu that I used all the time. This too is gone - I relearning a technique from before my first smartphone and the main way I control Spotify has been removed. I wanted to throw my computer and smash loads of expensive things every time this happened last week, and if you think that is bad, it gets worse.
This is something I've talked about in the past, but such slight changes to services fuck everyone over. Spotify's latest redesign isn't as wholesale as the last one but there are some very odd choices made that end up wasting so much space on the client it is hard to justify. I can't make the columns wider for example, or the search bar is not hovering away from everything (when the search bar actually fucking works, mind you) and the new play controls (with a "lyrics" function that is clever but pointless) are so sparsely laid out you've wasted so much space up front it's quite astonishing it made it past testing.
Oh and one fucking thing that is missing that pissed me off; right clicking on a playlist to play it. I can't believe that is gone, but it is. Imagine that. It's like going to open a door with a key and being told "Oh, keys don't work like that any more".
The Missing Options
If you want proof that the latest version is total bumwash just take a look at the forums - paying customers outraged at some of the above. But there is a longer list of strangely omitted options that were in the system that folk used daily. I don't use these as much, but they are wide ranging.
- "Find" not working - Control + F was removed.
- Can't Search in a Playlist - I didn't know that this was a feature, but now knowing it exists it's removal is confounding.
- It is almost impossible to drag and drop songs - Not sure why this is the case (though I remember from my Delphi and Visual Basic coding days that Drag and Drop wasn't the easiest to implement) but it really works about 30% of the time.
- Can't edit information on local files ie: files you ACTUALLY OWN.
- In the older and better versions you can click on a playlist folder and it'd approximate all the songs in that folder into a single unified playlist. I didn't use this feature often, but it was a nice one. It's been removed completely from the latest release with a now empty view.
This isn't A Feature Request List
I did my feature list for GPM previously, but this list isn't that - this is a feature reinstatement list if anything. I don't know about you, but when I did software development cycles at high school (note: I am 30 years old (!) this year, so that puts my final High School year in 2003) one main rule we discussed was the parity of an older version - you can't auto-update or replace a design or client software that doesn't match the expectations of the version you are replacing. Imagine Microsoft released Word without a spell checker. Excel without a Formula Evaluator. Or Apple released a version of iOS without the App Store. Folk would literally shit themselves. Of course, what if they then promised to bring it back in the future... but with no time line or ETA?
Well that's the stance that Spotify are taking. "Don't worry! This is a new version; all the old features you like that we decided to just not bother ourselves with this time round will be coming back (though I have no idea when)". Fuck that. That contempt for the client base is shocking and rather arrogant. This should never have made it to me an end-user, but stayed in Beta testing until feature parity.
But... Fuck Them and Roll it Back
Luckily I and you don't have to put up with this shit. Unlike when changes are made to Apps downloaded from the App Store on your phones, there is a way to install older versions of Spotify - read the instructions here. It works perfectly; so fuck them. This isn't the first time I've frozen on a version of Spotify mid-change. I remember version 0.8.8 or something fucking everything up.
And I Might Fuck It For Real
The main reason I stay with Spotify is that I've got hundreds and hundreds of playlists and loads of different ones set up. I'd struggle without them... which is why PyPortify, which allows me to take all my playlists and such to Google Play Music is interesting me a lot.
They are no longer the only streaming team in town.