Play Back Your Tracks on Spotify Mobile

The main point of Spotify Mobile is to have millions of tracks in your pocket. But only Premium subscribers can enjoy streaming tracks from Spotify’s music library. Free and Unlimited users can listen only to local files that they already own on their computer and have synced to Spotify Mobile.

Playback should be familiar to you after you have some experience with using Spotify on your computer; you just use the touch screen to run the show, rather than the keyboard and mouse.

To play back a track, just tap it. The album artwork appears, and the track starts playing. Slide your finger along the timeline at the bottom to jump to a certain part of the track.

If you need to do something else — such as check your stock prices, see what’s happening on Twitter, or send an e-mail to your boss — you can do all that while the music keeps playing. On the iPhone, even if you exit the Spotify app, the music keeps playing.

Android users are at an advantage here because you can see the track that’s playing in the notification bar at the top of the screen, even if you aren’t actually in the app. Just slide this bar down, and then tap the track displayed to return to Spotify. There’s also a nifty music-player widget that includes basic playback controls. Tapping it takes you straight back into Spotify, too.

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If you want to stop the track, you need to tap the Pause button (which appears where the Play button was) to pause it. Pausing is the same as stopping a track; there’s no actual Stop button. You can then exit the app like you would with any other (press your phone’s Home button to go to your main menu) and continue with the boring stuff you were doing before.

Tracks are streamed to the Spotify Mobile app from Spotify’s own servers (huge computers that store, receive, and deliver content over the Internet) and cached locally on your phone to save you from having to stream a track again. The desktop app is more sophisticated, combining these aspects with peer-to-peer sharing for a more immediate playing experience.

However, apart from a slight initial delay of a second or so when Spotify begins to fetch the track, you probably won't experience any major playback hiccups on your phone. If you go out of wireless range or are in an area where the 3G reception isn’t so hot, then you might run into a few connectivity issues, but these problems are rare.

And besides, you can always sync your tracks offline to avoid any streaming problems. The downside is that tracks over mobile may be of a lesser quality than on the computer (160 Kbps, as opposed to potentially 320 Kbps available through your computer’s desktop app). The sound’s still excellent, but real audiophiles might be able to tell the difference.

To skip to the next track on both iPhone and Android, just swipe the album artwork by sliding your finger from right to left. Reverse the action to go back to a previous track or tracks. This process looks very impressive when you have a playlist containing a lot of different pieces of album cover art.

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