Spotify has announced that its mobile apps can now be used to stream music for free.
Previously, Spotify's mobile model was accessible to subscribers only, so users who wanted to listen to music via apps had to commit to a monthly plan. As of today, any iOS or Android owner can use the Spotify app to stream music for free, with ads.
There is a difference between the free desktop and mobile offerings, however. Users with free accounts who stream via mobile will only be able to listen to songs via a "shuffle play" model. Using existing playlists, favourite artists and genres, Spotify will automatically serve up a shuffled mix of music, with a limit of six skips per hour. This differs from the desktop model, which offers unlimited on-demand streaming of artists, tracks, playlists and more.
When listening as a free user, the mobile apps do not offer the ability to cache tracks for offline listening. This feature is still reserved for subscribers to Spotify's premium service.
The tablet apps continue to work in the same way as the desktop version, allowing users to access tracks on demand.
Spotify's free mobile offering is similar to Pandora, the streaming service best known for its internet radio model. Spotify currently trails Pandora in user base, with 24 million active users and 6 million paid subscribers. In comparison, Pandora has 72.4 million active users.
The streaming company also announced its expansion into 20 more markets, bringing the total number of countries served by Spotify to 55.