Spotify Radio gets an overhaul, boosting music discovery

Spotify's Radio app has a new interface and the ability to skip tracks as much as you like, making it an excellent way of finding new music.

Spotify has given its Radio service an overhaul, making it a rather natty tool for music discovery.

The update will be rolled out in the next few days, but if you can't wait, you can try it out -- along with Spotify's new app offering -- by downloading the preview version of Spotify. Go on, give it a go. We'll wait.

Cool huh? We've tested the new Radio app, and we're impressed. Drag a song into the Radio tab on the left of the Spotify interface and it'll start cycling through similar tunes it thinks you'll like, based on its 'intelligent recommendation engine'.

It works very well for the most part, though we found it sometimes didn't fare too well when it came to finding similar tracks. Shove The Drugs Don't Work by The Verve in there, for example, and you get a choice selection of classic Brit rock -- Pulp, The Who and The Coral. But why is Weird Al Yankovic's Amish Paradise coming up when we search for Men At Work's Down Under (the track any music service must be able to handle before it gets our seal of approval)?

There's a 'create new station' button in the top right of the Radio app that similarly starts the radio going by letting you choose an artist or track from Spotify's library. Previous 'stations' you've tried out are listed below, as well as popular stations based on what other Spotify fans are rocking out to.

A feature we really like is the ability to drag tracks that are playing into playlists, so if you find a song you really like it's easy to make sure you don't lose track of it. Something we don't like is the inability to cycle back through songs that have played -- it's not possible to find a track that was playing more than two songs ago.

It's available for those using free Spotify as well as people paying the monthly subscription, and you can create as many stations as you like.

The new Radio app is cool, but it's quite similar to the Last.fm Spotify app -- that similarly generates similar tracks based on your tune selection, and while it only generates 20 tracks, it does let you save that list as a playlist, which is dead handy.

Still, it's great to see more music discovery tools within Spotify -- something that was sorely lacking until recently.

This update makes Spotify a serious rival to Pandora, an online radio service that's only available in the UK. As Spotify only recently became available to our US cousins, that's a sign that the Swedish streaming service is going on the attack overseas. This Radio app also boasts unlimited track skipping -- something not offered by some similar online radio services.

Do you love Spotify? Or would you rather download your music through iTunes? Or perhaps even buy a physical CD? Let us know in the comments, or on our Facebook wall.

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Software
About the author

Luke Westaway is a senior editor at CNET and writer/ presenter of Adventures in Tech, a thrilling gadget show produced in our London office. Luke's focus is on keeping you in the loop with a mix of video, features, expert opinion and analysis.

 

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