Spotify’s redesign isn’t going down well – why are so many apps striving for the same look? | Science and technology news


Spotify is preparing to make what has been hailed as the “biggest evolution” of its popular music streaming app yet.

Announced at this week’s Stream On event and set to roll out over the coming months, the 500 million users will see their home screen receive a major makeover, which founder Daniel Ek says will bring the platform different content ” come alive” – from videos to audio books.

But it didn’t take long for observers to point out that the new look wasn’t all that new. Quite the opposite, given his attempts to become an all-encompassing attention-getter, that’s what it looks like now tick tockYouTube and Instagram were stacked in a blender and smothered over your phone screen with no space.

Open Spotify Once the makeover is complete, your home screen could automatically play a video podcast that you might like; Tapping the Music or Podcasts section brings up a vertically scrolling feed of content designed to entice you to try new things and keep you “busy” rather than just serving up familiar rows of recently played tracks and recommended playlists .

Remember when it just wanted to play music?

“Spotify needs to get back to the core of its brand—putting sound first,” says Grace Bilney of creative agency Redhouse.

“The new design is confusing and image-heavy. It sends the wrong message.”

This assessment is shared by many viewers of the Stream On event.

Music producer Tommy Danvers, who has worked with artists such as Kylie Minogue, Janet Jackson and Tom Jones, believes efforts to render a TikTok-style user experience were a mistake.

“If you already have an app that dominates in its particular space, which Spotify is, it doesn’t make sense to me to try to compete on any other level,” he says.

“To muddy the water is to rob something of the experience.”

Image: Spotify

The changing face of your favorite apps

In fairness, Spotify has to be said that it’s by no means alone when it comes to apps trying to reinvent themselves.

While most would view Spotify’s main competitor as something like Apple Music (which Spotify is well ahead of in terms of users and reach), Ek and his team see anything that threatens the time you spend on their app as a potential rival .

That’s why Instagram, which was once focused on nothing more than photos, took its Stories feature from Snapchat and switched to short videos after the launch of TikTok. YouTube did the same by launching 2021 Shorts – another endless vertical feed of snappy clips you might like.

And TikTok isn’t just a trendsetter because it joined Facebook last year by nabbing upstart app BeReal’s novel “one-picture-a-day” approach and calling it “TikTok Now.”

So why are so many apps so desperate to adopt the same features and aesthetics?

Will Amazon one day become an endless treadmill of algorithmically generated purchase suggestions?

Will Microsoft Teams just turn into a vertical feed of meetings people think you want to attend? Honestly, there’s probably no better way to revive that pesky Clippy mascot.

Bilney says this is all part of an attempt by tech companies to capitalize on the success of “micro-attention apps” and keep users hooked by hurling massive amounts of content at them in a short amount of time.

And should the growing calls to ban TikTok over privacy concerns comes to fruition, it might seem like a smart game if Instagram, YouTube, or Spotify have already laid the groundwork to clean up some of their user base.

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Why is TikTok banned?

“These platforms are about attention”

“It’s a huge opportunity they’re taking,” Danvers says of Spotify’s redesign, which he sees as yet another sign of how people’s attitudes toward music have changed since streaming took hold.

“The value of music has been sucked dry in the last 10-15 years – everyone wants music but nobody is willing to pay for it, they’re pretty happy to watch it for free on YouTube or have the free tier on Spotify.

“And now we’re in the middle of a subscription war in a livelihood crisis. Maybe you were comfortable having a few of these a few years ago, but now people are like, ‘Do I really need all of this?’

“At the end of the day, all of these platforms are about attention – can I keep your attention for as long as possible?”

The Spotify bosses appeared to admit this when unveiling their redesigned app.

Company co-president Gustav Soderstrom opened his remarks on the redesign by noting that today’s world is “pulling us in a million different directions.”

Many of the apps we use seem increasingly determined to do the same.

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