Great though the idea of legal music streaming is, the implementation still leaves a bit to be desired. After six or seven years as a Napster customer I ended up leaving the (increasingly unloved and dated) service when they messed up my monthly payments for the second time.
Onto Spotify, about which a few things bug me. The first is that I’m not sure why, with the bandwidth and storage available in 2012, we still can’t have lossless streaming based on a codec like FLAC. I’m guessing this one’s down to the rights-owners.
The most recent update appears to have fixed another gripe; that tracks were automatically cross-faded and that this couldn’t be switched off, meaning that tracks without a lead-in pause could be heard to fade in. Two new options let you toggle gapless playback, and disable or tweak the crossfade. Good.
Unfortunately, the most recent update has also taken the single worst feature of the software and somehow made it worse. For reasons that are hard to explain, playing a track in Spotify typically queues all the other tracks in the view you had at the time. For example, if you play a track after searching for an artist, the artist’s entire Spotify catalogue is added to the play queue.
This usually does make sense if you’re viewing an album page, but the real problem is that the additional tracks aren’t explicitly queued: if you explicitly right-click other tracks and select ‘Queue’, they’re given a higher priority and inserted (in yellow) after the track that’s currently playing, but before the remaining tracks implicitly added to the original play queue (in white).
It’s incredibly unintuitive: play an album, find another you want to hear next, queue it and you’ll find it plays in the middle of the first album you selected. Worse, you can’t delete implicitly queued tracks or move them around in the play order. The easiest way to deal with them used to be by quitting and restarting Spotify.
With the latest update, even that doesn’t remove them. Now the only way I’ve found to clear the unwanted items is to double-click to play the last track in the list, which should make those before it disappear, then seek to the end of the track and when playback finishes that track will also disappear. Now that’s good UX.
In case you hadn’t worked it out, you can avoid the problem in the first place by always right-clicking tracks/albums and queueing them, then starting playback by viewing the Play Queue and double-clicking on the first track in the list.