I have been a big fan of Spotify since it reached our shores, but the Spotify iPhone app has been buggy and more difficult to navigate than it need be. Making it all the more frustrating was the fact that the iPhone app was the chief reason why I upgraded to Spotify's premium plan. With this latest update, Spotify on my iPhone now feels worthy of the cost required to operate it.
With the updated Spotify app, you'll encounter the first of its two big new features by swiping to the right to reveal the new sidebar menu. It provides quick access to these commonly accessed areas:
The other big addition is the Now Playing bar. It sits at the bottom edge of the screen no matter where you are in the app, letting you see artist and track information, including the tiniest thumbnail of the cover art on the left and a play/pause button on the right. Better yet, you can swipe left and right on the Now Playing bar to skip tracks. You can also swipe up on this bar to see the cover art in full screen with play controls.
There are also two new menus, each containing helpful items. The first is accessed by tapping on the full-screen album art and includes three buttons I use frequently: shuffle and shortcuts to the album and the artist of the currently playing track. (There is also a shuffle button above a tracks list for both albums and playlists. It works as one might expect for playlists, but it works for albums only before you begin playing any tracks. Once you tap to play a track of an album, this shuffle button doesn't do anything.)
The other menu you can access by tapping the "..." button located next to each track when viewing a list. It calls up a menu with six buttons (across two screens) that let you add the track to a playlist, star it, add it to your queue, share it, go to the artist page, and start a radio station based on the tracks.
In addition, Spotify claims this version fixes a number of bugs, including one that frequently displayed a meaningless message -- "track only available online" -- to be ignored when starting the app and another that displayed the wrong track on the lock screen. In the day I've used the app, I am happy to report that lock-screen reporting has been nothing but accurate, and I've yet to be told anything about a track's availability.
The iPad app received an update yesterday as well, but I don't use Spotify on my iPad nearly as much and don't perceive any noticeable changes.