For those of us who swear by music streaming services, Spotify is one must-have app on our devices. Never mind the fact that one always needs to go through a few hoops before being able to use the service as it is still not yet available to users in Kenya and all of Sub-Saharan Africa except the obvious, South Africa.
While doing so, depending on the device one is using and the kind of data plan they are on, challenges are likely to emerge.
For instance, while testing a basic entry-level smartphone last year, I was met by this:
For anyone using a device with very little onboard storage, like the Safaricom Neon Kicka and its 4GB internal storage (overall, very little is left for apps and other use cases), running out of space is an everyday reality and since there is only so much one can do with the available memory expansion options, saving every inch of it is important.
Which is why it is rather ironical that an online music streaming service, which by its very nature should result in space savings on the part of the user and their device, ends up taking lots of space in the long run. Cache memory is to blame for this but you know what? That’s all by design so that the app works better, gets to songs quickly and saves you some valuable MBs, as Kenyans fondly refer to data bundles by their units of measurement, megabytes.
Have you ever been in such a situation?
What if we told you about Spotify Lite, the app that Spotify has finally officially announced?
For those in the know, this is not likely to be news to them. Spotify Lite has been around for a year now, albeit in an extended public beta capacity.
However, at least from my little usage of the app over the last few hours, a lot has changed since the first time I took it for a spin.
Maybe it is because I have been trying it out on a device whose users are not the ones targeted the most by it because of its hardware capabilities but I found it to be much better in all aspects than it was when it debuted a year ago.
It is fast, quite responsive and keeps a lot of the features that make Spotify, well, Spotify, in place. It just eliminates the fat. For instance, the next song auto-plays by default and users don’t have an option to change that in the settings. Nor can they crossfade songs.
There is also no ability to download music locally, for those with premium subscriptions. Car View, which kicks in for those of us who have cars and compatible infotainment systems, is also out of the equation. As is the ability to connect to other devices like game consoles, televisions or cast music to Chromecast devices on one’s network. Users also can’t decide the quality of the stream nor can they enable the data saving feature.
The latter features are disabled by design since the app is meant to ensure that users don’t go over their data plans. Spotify Lite goes a step further and lets users set a mobile data limit.
In addition to that, it also endeavours to save as much space on a user’s device as possible. Spotify promises that the app won’t balloon beyond 10 megabytes and, true to form, the one installed on my device is just 3.8 MB, something it clearly indicates in the settings section of the app from where one can keep tabs on things.
Other functions like accessing all of one’s playlists and those curated by others, searching for and playing songs, etc, which is why we need such a service in the first place, are all there. For those with premium subscriptions, the only advantage is being able to play the next song as many times as they may like as well as not having to deal with ads.
As has been the case before, the app is still not accessible to users in Kenya and those interested in getting it will have to do so from third-party app stores like APK Pure and others. Spotify notes that Spotify Lite is available in 36 countries including 5 from Africa – Egypt, Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco and South Africa – where the service has been available for some time now.
If the service ever expands to the country, Spotify Lite will likely be front and centre of such efforts.