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Spotify review

2016-11-29 #rant #review #tech

Since copying music to my iPhone is a bit of pain, I decided to stop being a dinosaur, and get into this new world of on-demand music streaming.

Regrettably, it seems that these services are really below alpha quality - and amazingly, manage to have millions of customers anyway (but hey, stuff is frequently made popular due to marketing and not due to good quality).

Spotify website

The website is so riddled with bugs it’s incredible. Here’s one:

I managed to reproduce this several times, and it keeps on happening.

Also, if you create an account using Facebook, it’ll assign an erroneous email which you can’t change. For me, it used “hugo@osvaldobarrera.com.ar”. While it’s true that this was my email lots of years back, it’s not even present in Facebook. I actually created my Facebook profile after that email died, so I’ve no idea where Spotify got it from.

There’s also lots of localization errors. It seems Spotify’s entire i18n system is completely broken, and will often render different bits of the same page in different languages.

I ignored these errors (and many others that I honestly don’t recall so won’t mention here) and proceded to try it anyway, because I felt quite generous.

The web-based player

The web-player is pretty much a dead end unless you live in 2009. It requires that you install the ancient flash player. No HTML5 support, for some reason that’s beyond me.

This reminds me of Grooveshark, which had an HTML5 player, but regrettably, it died.

Update 2017-05-22

Looks like Spotify’s web player can now use Widevine, a DRM plug-in compatible with major browsers/platforms. Still no luck if you don’t use one of those, and still DRM-tied, but there’s a chance.

The desktop app

The desktop app is buggy as hell. It too had localization errors where I’d see screens in multiple languages.

More importantly though, the search does not work, so you can’t find tracks. That’s as much as a dead end as it gets.

A screenshot of the search error.
I tried the app in different systems, and the results are consistently the same.

There’s also a huge bar on the right hand side of the screen to link Spotify with Facebook. If you don’t use or care for Facebook, it’ll stay there, taking up space uselessly, with no “hide” button.

The mobile app

Even after all the above issues, I decided I’d try the mobile app. I usually give up fast, but for some reason, I went on.

The mobile app also has localization issues, with different bits of the UI in different languages.

The sign up page showing an error in a different language.
It pisses me that my user name was used, but that's not actually a bug.
It'd be nice if the error was in the same language as the rest of the screen though.
A screen mostly in english, except for a title in spanish..
More mixed languages.

I tried to play a track. “Bohemian Rhapsody”. Search worked, but when I tried to play it, Spotify would just play random music by the same artists, not the track I picked. Selecting a track requires a premium account (so, basically, free accounts can only listen to random stuff).

A screen explaining that only premium users can select tracks.
The "only premium users can choose what they listen to" is actually documented.

The language issues continue:

A screen showing I need a premium account - in spanish..
I need a premium account for this. In Spanish.
A screen stating I've activated premium mode - in english.
Okay, I activated my "7 day free trail". The trail is in English. Maybe proper i18n is only for premium users?

So, now that I can finally actually play music, there’s a larger issue. Opening any album only has a huge “shuffle” button. There’s no clear way to play it in order (and some albums make no sense shuffled, why would anyone have this chaotic default is beyond me).

It seems that there’s actually no way to disable this insane behaviour, but taping on the first track will start playing it, and play the rest in order. However, there’s a catch. Adding other stuff to the queue plays it immediately after the selected track, overriding the rest of the initial album.
The workaround is adding a track, then its album, then deleting the duped first track, and then adding more stuff. Ugh, horrible.

I also discovered that the iPhone app can remote-control the desktop app, so it’s possible to play music in the desktop version, even if its search is non-functional.

Note: My iPhone is configured in English (UK). Siri as well. Everything everywhere is set to English.


Spotify’s collection is pretty large. About four out of every five albums/tracks I’ve looked for were there.

There’s a button on the desktop app to link a local folder and listen music from it. Clicking the button does nothing, regrettably.


The price varies substantially from region to region, but is relatively cheap where I live. YMMV.

There’s also an offer with a 86% (yes, eighty six percent!) discount the first three months, which probably helps you get hooked at a very cheap price and then forget that you’re paying for it.

Finally, if you and your family members live together, you only need to pay 21% of the total price each (being six members). Sadly, the terms and conditions specify that it’s only for family members that live under the same household.

Live in separate households? Share your household with friends? Not included. I’m not sure how this applies unmarried couples.

In any case, I’m pretty sure that lots of families will ignore this, especially since it’s in very small print, and it’s impossible to enforce.


The only thing that’s actually usable is the mobile app, if you’re willing to pay. All the rest is garbage, and free accounts make no sense, since you can’t pick what you listen to.

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