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App attack! Spotify for iPhone and Android

Spotify's mobile application has arrived in both the iTunes Store and Android market, and it's packing a level of win that could fell a moose -- although there are some problems...

It's incredible to think, but music-streaming service Spotify has been rocking our world for less than a year. When we heard that a mobile app was being prepped for iPhone and Android phones, we crossed our fingers and barely dared hope that we would soon see the 'Fy on the phone. Today, that dream is realised, as the apps are available for download from both the iTunes App Store and Android Market.

What does it do?

The apps do everything the desktop Spotify app does: they allow you to search for and stream vast quantities of music, and save tracks to playlists in a simple iTunes-like interface. The mobile apps have one killer feature that even the desktop app doesn't, which is -- and we still can't believe we're writing this -- the ability to save streamed music to your phone for offline listening. We're not usually given to hyperbole, but that is gobsmackingly amazing.

Upon first download, the Android app warns about the catch: potentially huge data rate costs. Make sure you're on a flat rate subscription if you're even thinking of using Spotify. The Android app also includes a full listing of your data usage in the settings menu.

Some users have balked at the fact that although the app is free to download, you need to be a Spotify Premium subscriber to actually use it. To these people we respectfully offer the following advice: it's £9.99 a month for unlimited mobile music magic, you cheapskates.

What's missing?

Spotify has a fairly simple interface anyway, so there's very little to miss off -- in the Android app at least. The iPhone version isn't quite as fully featured: it doesn't include the all-important data information, and also misses out the home screen.

Because of Apple's refusal to allow apps to run in the background -- except, of course, iTunes -- hitting the home button to use another app will pause Spotify. When you open it next time, however, your last song and your downloads will resume. Locking the phone doesn't pause the app, so you can keep listening when it's in your pocket. While we're on the subject, the Android app has cooler pull-down tabs.

The most significant omission for Apple and Spotify's relationship is the option to buy a track, as Spotify is partnered with 7Digital, a rival to iTunes.

Those old prudes at Apple have also slapped Spotify with a 12+ rating, because it gives access to songs, some of which -- whisper it -- have infrequent or mild mature or suggestive themes, profanity or crude humour, and references to alcohol, tobacco, drugs and doin' the do.

App attack verdict

We would deliver a verdict, but we're actually speechless. The iPhone app may be hobbled, but it's still a game-changer. Unbelievable, and until you work out how to stream music from your hard drive to your phone, arguably the best use of a mobile phone ever.

Download Spotify (iTunes link)
Download Spotify from Android Market
Cost: Free to download. £9.99 per month for Spotify Premium account

Similar apps (iTunes link)
MixZing (Android app)