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Hands-on with the new Spotify: Still the streaming service to beat

Caitlin McGarry | May 28, 2015
Smarter running playlists and podcasts will keep you coming back for more.

Spotify also worked with popular DJ Tiësto to create original soundtracks for your run, if you're a fan.

The ultimate boredom cure

Spotify's new Shows section is designed to add value to the streaming service. Being able to watch Broad City clips as I lounge on the couch or sync my favorite podcasts for offline listening on my daily subway commute would take two other apps out of rotation and make it easier for me to toggle between various types of entertainment when the mood strikes. When I finish listening to a podcast, I can start a playlist to accompany me on my walk from the train to my office without switching apps. It's ideal.

But Spotify's catalog of shows is too limited--at least right now. Some of my favorite podcasts, like Gimlet's StartUp and WNYC's Death, Sex & Money, are available, but show selection could be much larger (and hopefully will grow down the line). Same goes for videos. Need to catch up those Inside Amy Schumer clips everyone on the Internet is discussing? Spotify's got you covered. Music videos? Nope.

Spotify is working with media partners to get original content in the app, but those new audio and video shows aren't yet available to stream.

The new running feature and podcasts alone would convince me to pony up for a premium subscription if I didn't have one already. After all, I don't want ads interrupting my tempo-driven playlist. But that doesn't mean Spotify can declare victory over rivals like Rdio or prevent the overhauled Beats Music from taking over.

The going rate for a streaming service subscription is $9.99 a month, and every service has a pretty extensive library. If Spotify can't compete on price or song selection, and with Jay Z's Tidal promising subscribers exclusives, the dominant streaming service has to diversify. Shows and Running are steps in the right direction. Your move, Apple.


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