Spotify Updates, Queue Still Weird

Recently, Spotify released a new version of their OS X desktop app. It is prettier than the last version, but in ways that I have a hard time articulating. I think that they went over the fine details and made things like contextual menus look better, as far as font as spacing goes.

If it had just been a facelift, I could have gotten on board with it, but, wow, this is a company that is aggressively testing how far a valuable service will get you.

Their queue functionality has long been problematic, due to a model that baldly makes no sense. You can click “play” on the first track of an album to queue up the whole album. If you then pick another album and “queue” it, it will insert every track of that album after the currently playing song, thus splitting up whatever album you happened to be listening to. You also can’t remove items from your queue once they’re there, without clicking “play” on another whole song. This instantly clears out your queue. This is less user-unfriendliness and more like outright belligerence toward users.

Meanwhile, they hid the queue; instead of putting it in the nav menu on the left, it’s buried in the bottom of the screen as an inscrutable icon. Very close to the volume bar, which has lost its affordance and instead just looks like a decorative horizontal bar until you hover over it. (Although, truth be told, I’m curious how far context and relying upon an idiom that users may have actually learned will work out for this particular design choice).

Fundamentally, it just doesn’t feel like Spotify gets the concept of albums. Not just with regard to queues – managing albums is atrocious if you want to collect a large set, and the way that singles – actual, single songs rather than EPs – are treated as independent albums is bizarre. It’s clear that they weren’t thinking about how to handle albums until the beginning of 2014.