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Spotify iOS 4 update now live: We test multitasked music

Spotify's iPhone app has officially been updated to allow for multitasking -- it's now possible to listen to your favourite choons while using other apps, plus a host of new social features

"It's here, it's here!" we cry with the excitement of a child rushing to the door to greet the postman, who has in his postbag the send-off cereal toy they ordered approximately six to eight weeks ago. Except we're grown ups, and the toy is in fact the long awaited firmware update for Spotify's iPhone app.

Spotify is now iOS 4-compliant, and takes advantage of the iPhone's brand-new multitasking capabilities to bring background listening to the iPhone 4 and iPhone 3GS. The kindly old wizards over at Spotify HQ have also added a bunch of social features, ported straight from the desktop version. But how does it work? And more importantly, how well does it work?

What happens?

Now, when you're listening to Spotify and you hit the iPhone's home button, whatever you were grooving to will keep playing in the background. If you double-tap the home button to call up the multitasking dock you'll be able to switch in and out of the Spotify app without it loading from scratch. This means you'll be able to check your email, or more importantly tweet, without stopping the rock.

Because Spotify's music streaming now works outside the native application, you'll now be able to use remotes to skip a track, play and pause, which is great if your headphones have buttons to control these functions, or if your iPhone is plugged into a dock. The iPhone's built-in music controls will now default to Spotify if the app is running in the background, so both the iPhone's lock screen and multitasking dock music controls now work with Spotify. Perfick.

Is it any good?

We've only been using the app for a few hours, but so far things are looking very rosy indeed. We didn't notice any crashes, and although we detected a minor amount of slowdown when playing music outside the app, it wasn't enough to get on our nerves or halt our productivity. In short, we're very happy.

Also new with this update are a range of social features and a 'What's New' tab, which lets you peruse new additions to the Spotify database, and see which tracks are the most popular. We really like this addition, as previously the Spotify app was lacking a decent interface for discovering new music.

Finally, it's now possible to view posts from your Spotify social connections, and listen to the playlists and tracks your horrible trendy friends have decided to force down your ears.

What do you think of the new layout? Does this bring Spotify on the iPhone up to par with the Android app? Answers in the comments, or on our Facebook wall. You can download the app for free from iTunes, but it requires a monthly subscription.