Spotify Connect? Never heard of it
That’s because it was only just announced. It’s essentially Spotify’s take on Apple’s AirPlay wireless streaming technology, allowing you to instantly shift playback from your computer, smartphone or tablet to a set of speakers. Wirelessly, of course.
How is this different from Spotify’s wireless streaming through, say, Sonos?
Well, that’s a bespoke piece of software built specifically for Sonos. Spotify Connect, on the other hand, is a one-size-fits-all solution that can be rolled out to work with pretty much anything, including more entry-level audio products.
Does it work with any sound system I have at home?
Nope. The system needs to have built-in Wi-Fi and, currently, a chip built by Spotify partners SMSC or Frontier Silicon. The initial list of hardware makers building Spotify Connect-compatible gear is Argon, B&O, Denon, Hama, Marantz, Philips, Pioneer, Revo, Teufel and Yamaha. There’ll be more announced by the end of the year, according to Spotify.
OK, but what if I own a system made by one of those companies?
Sorry to say, no existing hardware is compatible. So you’ll have to get your wallet out. Stuff that works will bear a Spotify Connect logo.
Anything else I’ll need?
A Spotify Premium account, which will set you back $9.90 a month. Of course, that also delivers unlimited, higher quality streaming, streaming and syncing via mobile, and no ads, which we think are worth the price alone.
So how does it work?
Spotify’s mobile and desktop apps will eventually have a Spotify Connect button (it’s coming to the iOS app first). Tap or click on this and you’ll then be able to transfer playback to one of a list of compatible devices on your home network, and if you’re mid-song it’ll continue from the point at which you left off.
Sounds a lot like AirPlay...
Despite its outward similarities to AirPlay, it actually works differently. While AirPlay streams music from the device to the sound system, Spotify Connect sets up a cloud stream direct from the Internet, that is merely controlled by the device. Spotify claims means no dropped streams and no interruption in playback when someone calls your phone, and also a reduction in battery consumption on mobile devices.
So it’s better?
That remains to be seen – we wouldn’t want to say that without trying it. But it’s an indicator of Spotify’s desire to become the de facto leader in music playback both at home and on mobile (and we shouldn’t forget its in-car efforts either). Once every set of speakers and every hi-fi is Spotify compatible, a tenner a month to listen to anything anywhere is going to seem like a bargain to a lot of people.
Sold! It’s coming to all mobile editions of Spotify?
No, only iOS and Android it seems. Spotify apparently has no plans to bring Connect to BlackBerry or Windows Phone – a clear indication of just how important it regards those platforms. Connect is coming to iOS “over the coming months”, with Android and desktop to follow.