From time to time, we at the business desk are pleased to bring you articles
that can help you to deal more effectively and efficiently with the wide
world of technology. If you are struggling to keep up or are a bit lost
when it comes to being able to do things on your own without having to ask
or pay for help then we invite you to read on.
Today we have a great little article for you;
A Review of Spotify Free and Songza: Take the Music with You
We hope you find this article useful. Have a great day.
The business desk team
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A Dan Thompson contribution
A Review of Spotify Free and Songza: Take the Music with You
American Foundation for the Blind
Access World, September 2014 Issue
Consumers who are blind or visually impaired have many options for streaming
music on their smartphones and devices. This article will discuss two free
apps for iOS, Spotify Free and Songza. Pandora (one of the earliest
streaming music programs) and iTunes Radio for iOS, both good choices, were
discussed in previous AccessWorld articles.
When Spotify first came to the US several years ago after debuting in
Europe, the app was extremely popular. At the time, Spotify provided access
to a huge collection of legal, free music. Ads played periodically, but they
were brief. The original PC desktop application was mostly accessible, but
the same could not be said for the Mac desktop application. Unfortunately,
PC accessibility has decreased and sighted assistance is now needed to read
results and play songs on the computer. Right now, Spotify is inaccessible
on both the PC and Mac.
Spotify originally offered a premium version of the mobile app for $9.99,
which let you put the program on your device. The program worked well on the
iPhone, but it wasn't perfect.
Now, Spotify allows users to sign up for a free mobile version of the app.
Here's the description from the iTunes App Store as of July 29, 2014:
Spotify is the best way to listen to music on mobile or tablet.
Search for any track, artist or album and listen for free. Make and share
playlists. Build your biggest, best ever music collection.
Get inspired with personal recommendations, and readymade playlists for just
Listen absolutely free with ads, or get Spotify Premium.
Free on mobile
. Play any artist, album, or playlist in shuffle mode.
Free on tablet
. Play any song, any time.
For this demonstration an iPhone 5 was used. There are several versions of
Spotify in the app store. I downloaded Spotify for iPhone. The registration
process was straightforward. All controls were labeled.
Upon completing the registration process, several pre-made playlists will be
displayed, including Hip Hop Monsters, The 1980s, and Rock Classics. There
are buttons for "Top Lists," "New Releases," and "Discover." Activating the
"Top Lists" button loaded a new screen with more playlists, including Top
Tracks in the United States and Ultimate Country. Next came a list of genres
from which to choose including, Pop, Workout, and Sleep. After selecting the
Workout option I was presented with several playlists including Power
Workout, Cardio, and Pumping Iron.
I double-tapped on the Top Tracks in the United States list and when the new
screen loaded, there was a list of some of the songs in the playlist. There
was also a "Shuffle" button located near the top of the playlist. This
started the music playing in random order. Playing songs in list order is
not an option in the free version of Spotify. When the "Shuffle" button is
activated, a message will say that you need Spotify Premium. (To exit the
dialogue box when using Spotify, select "Got It.")
Under the playing song's title is an unlabeled button that brings up a
context menu, which will be explained later in this article. Under the
artist's name is information about the track time and track position. Next
is a button for turning Shuffle on and off. By default the button is on.
Turning it off will bring up a dialogue about needing to upgrade to the
premium version to turn Shuffle off. The next controls are pause, previous
track and next track. Users of the free version of Spotify are entitled to
six skips per hour.
The "Main Menu" button is located at the top left corner of the screen. It
does not appear on every Spotify screen so you may need to use the "Back"
button, in the upper left corner, to get to it. The five menu options are
Search, Browse, Radio, Your Music, and Setting. Below these options is your
The Search option loads an edit box plus a list of some previous searches.
Double-tap on the edit box to begin entering search criteria. You can search
by song, album, or artist. I typed "All of Me" into the edit box and
executed my search. Under the heading Top Result, "All of Me, John Legend"
was displayed. There were also headings for Artists and Albums. Double
tapping on the search result did not start the song playing. Instead a new
screen opened with a "Context Menu" button in the upper right corner (this
is the same context menu that was mentioned earlier). You will encounter
this menu throughout Spotify. It will frequently be located under tracks and
Not all context menu options are available in the free version. The Save
option puts the song in your song list. This is where all your saved songs
are located whether they're in a playlist or not. If you have already saved
the song, the context menu presents a Remove option.
The "Add to Playlist" button lets you add the song to a previously created
playlist; if no playlists exist yet, an edit box will come up for you to
enter a name for your new playlist. You can also add a new playlist by
activating the "Add" button in the upper right corner when the playlist
screen is opened. Add a song to the playlist by double tapping on the
playlist you want. There is a Share option for sharing with social media, a
"Radio" button and a "Cancel" button.
The second Main Menu option is Browse. Activating this button brings you
back to the main Spotify screen, which contains many different playlists.
The third option is Radio. Spotify creates radio stations based on your song
searches, artists, and playlists. There are also many stations based on
genres. Double tapping on any radio station starts the music playing. The
current song can be found by scrolling past the list of stations. First is
the title, followed by the artist, then an unlabeled pause/play button.
There aren't any buttons for skipping tracks. Activating the "New Station"
button in the upper right corner brings up an edit box for entering a song
or artist. Entering a song or artist and activating the "Search" button
brings up a list of results. From the list of results, double tap on the
station you want. While a song is playing, between the title and artist is
an unlabeled button that will bring up the context menu discussed above.
There are controls to pause and go to the next track. You can also choose
thumbs up or thumbs down.
The fourth option in the Main Menu is Your Music. Here is where you'll find
all of your content. There are four tabs: Playlists, Songs, Albums, and
Artists. With any of these tabs, you must activate the "Shuffle Play" button
to start the music. Because shuffled playback is the only option available
in the free version, your music will be played in shuffled (random) order.
Activating the Playlist tab displays a list of your playlists. Double
tapping on a playlist will show a list of some of the songs. The Songs tab
displays a list of the songs you've saved, whether by adding them to a
playlist or by choosing Save from the context menu. This is one location
where you can use the Control Center on your iOS device to pause and skip
songs. Remember that on the free version, Spotify only allows six skips per
The Albums tab displays a list of albums that you have saved. Double tap on
the album you want to hear and then activate the Shuffle Play button.
The Artists tab displays a list of the artists of the music you've played on
Spotify. Next to the artist's name is the number of songs you've saved by
that artist. Double tap on the artist's name to see which songs you have on
The final option in the Main Menu is Settings. Here is where you can choose
social media and notifications. There is an account option which indicates
the type of account you are using (free or premium).
With some patience, the Spotify iOS app is an excellent source for streaming
music, offering access to a great deal of content. The app gives the user
the ability to create playlists and save content. The ads are usually brief
and don't play too often. The fact that you can't play playlists or albums
in order may be an issue for some, but otherwise Spotify is a good choice.
Songza is an app for streaming music on your iOS device. There are both free
and paid versions. The free version has ads, but they are visual so they
don't interrupt the music.
The iTunes App Store says: "Working? Relaxing? At the Gym? Songza plays you
the right music at the right time."
Songza has many playlists that can be sorted by activity, mood, or genre. In
addition, you can search for a playlist.
The registration process for Songza is straightforward. Once registration is
complete, activate the "Left Side Menu" button in the upper left. There are
times when the menu buttons in Songza can be a bit confusing. Sometimes the
button in the upper left is "Left Side Menu" and the button in the upper
right is "Now Playing," while on other screens a "Back" button is in the
upper left corner. Under other circumstances, there will be a "Right Side
Menu" button. When this button is activated you'll hear additional
information about the active playlist. Take some time to explore the buttons
and what they do; you can't damage the app.
The main screen has several options. First is a search form where you can
enter the name of an artist. A list of playlists containing the artist will
be displayed under the form. There is no button for executing the search.
There might also be additional playlists which have similar sounding names.
Below the search form is a list of categories: Concierge, Activities, Moods,
Genres, Decades, Favorites, and Recent. There are also buttons for "Friends"
and "Settings." When using Songza, slide your finger around the screen
because some information is presented that can't be found by flicking.
Activating the Concierge option loads a screen that says the day and time of
day and then says "Play music for" followed by a list of activities
including cleaning the house, getting outside, and saving the world. I
activated the "Cleaning the House" button and was presented with a group of
possible playlists including: Today's Pop Hits, 90s Feel Good Hits, and
Today's Country Hits. I selected Today's Country Hits and the next screen
had several options including Today's Rowdy Country and Country Party.
I selected Country Party and within about five seconds my music started
playing. The screen includes options such as thumbs up, thumbs down,
Twitter, and Facebook. Below these options you'll find the name of the song,
the artist, and the album. Next is the option to add the playlist to your
Favorites list, followed by a "Play/Pause" button, a "Skip" button, and an
All the other song categories function in a similar way. The genre's
category offers many options. For example, I chose Oldies from the Genres
category and the next screen gave me more than 15 playlists. As I flicked
through the results, Songza said the title and a brief description of the
list's content. Selecting a playlist brought up the same controls, such as
when I used the Country Party playlist.
The Favorites option will display all the lists that you added to your
favorites. Songza will say the name of the list and a brief description.
Double-tap on an item to start the music. The Recents option brings up a
list of playlists you have played recently
Songza has many playlists and a multitude of genres. The interface is the
same when all music is playing. Sometimes the menu buttons are inconsistent,
but with practice they are easy to use. The only negative is that you cannot
create your own playlist.
The Bottom Line
I recommend getting the free versions of both apps. Songza is easier to use,
but Spotify gives more functionality, with limitations. I have both on my
phone and I use them about equally.
Product: Spotify music streaming app
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