Spotify launched app support back in November. Fans responded with a collective hurrah! And so did we.
Making Spotify into an app platform is very clever - a huge step towards making Spotify a truly social music service. You'll find them by clicking on App Finder in the program's sidebar.
It's six months on and the number of apps for Spotify is slowly, steadily growing. Many add content to the service, some add functionality. All add some kind of value. We tested every single one and these are our definitive top 20 - the Spotify apps that set the bar for those to come.
If being in with the in-crowd is important to you, then TweetVine's what you need. Hastily hacked together but thoroughly serviceable, it scrapes Twitter for the #nowplaying hashtag, Spotify automatically adds to tweets. With a click or two, you too can be bopping along to Adele, Justin Bieber and tribute bands copying One Direction. Well, it's nice idea in theory. Might be more interesting if you could search for all Spotify URLs.
Pitchfork.com is the indie hipster's bible - an online magazine with news, reviews and features about the best in cult music, old and new. The Pitchfork Spotify app is a companion to the site, offering playlists based on features and quick links to the music they review. It's an ideal extension, giving you the chance to make up your own mind as you flick through the site. A collection of annual and themed playlists completes the offering.
Want a new, topical playlist every day? Fuse does it for you. It claims to combine the latest music news with "expertly curated playlists". We'll take that with a pinch or ten of salt - especially as the Easter playlist we sampled had a suspect cluster of unrelated songs with "egg", "Easter" and "rabbit" in the title... Others hit the mark though, like the Weird Al Yankovic playlist that combines his parody songs with the originals. A fun diversion.
4. Now That's What I Call Music!
Now! began life in the 80s as an economical way to buy the hits of the day. The first release featured 30 top tunes as a handy double LP. Fast forward to 2012 and the new "Now!" Spotify app enables you to stream the UK top 20, online. There are other features too, including playlist creation and generation tools, built-in sharing and access to most of the "Now!" back catalogue. It's the ideal app for dedicated pop pickers.
5. We Are Hunted
"We Are Hunted" is for the more adventurous music lover. Though the app has a "mainstream" chart of popular tracks, the emphasis is on the cool. The "emerging" chart list is the reason to install this service. It's not just obscure and whacky for the sake of it. The app looks at what you listen to and recommends playlists based on what other "We Are Hunted" users are listening to and loving. Weirdy, beardy and wonderful.
We tried to steer clear of label-specific apps in this round-up, but have given special dispensation to Domino. The British indie label offers up the best from Blighty and beyond. Arctic Monkeys, Pavement, The Triffids and Dirty Projectors are among the ultra-hip artists on show. You can sample the back-catalogue in a number of ways - or listen to playlists put together by discerning performers like Anna Calvi or The Kills. Achingly alternative.
If you think our choices so far have been a little low brow, then Classify could be your app. Spotify is full of classical music. So much, in fact, that it's difficult to know where to start. Classify's a good choice for absolute beginners, with a list of links to composers, complete with popular selections of their works. Start with the big names, sample the classic canon and then move on to the more challenging stuff.
8. The Legacy
Like Classify, The Legacy is a tool for digging up old music you may have missed. This time, it's classic rock and pop. New artists are featured each week. Influential performers like Bob Dylan, Miles Davies, Aretha Franklin and Paul Simon get the playlist treatment. You can check out the best of their music and the music they've influenced. The app also boasts photos, featured albums and fast access to full discographies.
9. Rolling Stone
The legendary rock magazine Rolling Stone has made a transition to digital that puts other inkies to shame. Their Spotify app is the latest in a line of innovative cross-platform connections that gathers curated playlists, albums reviewed in the mag and brand new tunes into a familiar and iconically branded interface. This is extended media - the magazine in your lap and the music on your favourite Spotify enabled device.
10. Hot or Not
Adding game dynamics to Spotify, this app allows you to decide whether random tunes float your boat or sink your battleship. Once you've made that choice, you're told where you taste fits into the statistics. There are some downsides. You can only filter tracks by three genres (party, rock and urban) and it will spam your Facebook timeline if you let it. Otherwise, it's an addictive way to discover new music. And, voting things up and down is what the Internet's for.
Digster is an app developed by Universal music, so there's an emphasis on their artists. Digster does the job with such professionalism and panache you forgive this foible. The game here is curated playlists. No algorithms or social features, just catalogues of playlists created for special occasions, that highlight genres or artists or that are by musicians. A great selection with a popular slant in a very slick app.
Turn Spotify into a karaoke machine with TuneWiki. You play a track, TuneWiki shows lyrics from its crowdsourced database. There are two modes. The main mode auto-scrolls the lyrics for you as the song plays. Sync mode enables you to listen and match a song to its words, line by line, for the good of the Tune Wiki community. If the app can't find the lyrics to a song you can just cut and paste them in.
13. Top 10
With this app you name a band, a genre or a topic and think of a top 10 - just like the perennial pub game. You can create your own lists, browse other people's and share them. You can also make collaborative top 10s. Start up a list, then ask friends to make their own using the same theme. The app generates a top 10 of the top 10s, based on popularity. Neato. And nicely designed too, we might add.
Before Spotify, there was Last.fm - a service that streamed songs and collected playlist data from you, but without as many tunes in the old catalogue. Still, Last.fm had (and still has) other useful features, like user profiles, "Audioscrobbling" (which does a better job of recording what you listen to than Spotify) and a savvy recommendation engine. Basically, it's a social network for music now. Plug the Last.fm app into Spotify and you get the best of both services.
If you make mix tapes (CDs or playlists) manually for your mates, then Filtr's the app that'll suck all the pleasure out of it. Sorry, did we say "pleasure"? We meant "hassle". Filtr automatically generates playlists based on artists you input, what you like on Spotify or, crucially, what your Facebook friends like. It'll even create playlists based on a list of people who've signed up for an event. That whiney noise? It's the sound of wedding DJs weeping.
Music sounds better with friends, claim the makers of Soundrop. If you don't have any, you can make some with this app . Soundrop bolts themed chat rooms onto the Spotify API. There are a selection of ready made rooms or you can make your own. They can be dedicated to a genre or a single artist, with everyone able to add and vote on tracks to listen to. An instant message box enables you to swap bon mots in real time with your fellow musos.
A slick playlist generator, Moodagent matches four potential humours; sensual, tender, happy or angry. Choose a mood and let the app come up with a playlist based on it - or search for a track of your own to get things started. You can then tweak the emotional curves to deliver a listening experience with a similar feel throughout. It all sounds a bit fey and new age, but the results are pretty good. Bonus, you can create playlists of similar tempos too.
It's so annoying when you find out that a band you like just played a venue near you - and you missed them. With Songkick, that should be a thing of the past. The service enables you to track your favourite bands and find out if they're playing close by, before they turn up with all their gear. The Spotify app automatically scans your playlist to extract your faves. You can also browse local listings.
The King of Spotify slipstream services, ShareMyPlaylists is the must-have feature that Spotify doesn't actually have... With tools to create your own playlists, generate new lists from scratch, vote on other user's lists and browse the tunage on offer, it's similar to a couple of other apps here. We love it for the vast size of its database, a simple, drag and drop interface and rating features. Install it.
20. The Guardian
A nice way to accompany your Saturday afternoon perusal of the broadsheets, The Guardian app gives you the full text of its current music reviews alongside instant access to album playlists. There are links to share tracks or add them to your sidebar using the Spotify API - but that's where it ends. It would be better with an archive search tool and buttons that allowed you to close reviews once you've read them.