Spotify’s chief product officer on the company’s iPad app

From Wired Magazine:

Spotify’s iPad app is now available from the App Store, but it’s taken the company quite some time to release it. We wanted to know why, so we grilled Gustav Söderström, the company’s chief product officer, to find out.

The interview covers quite a bit of ground, starting with how the iPad app differs from the company’s existing mobile apps, passing through the difference between developing for Android and for iOS and how Spotify will grow beyond just tech-savvy early adopters, and ending on where the digital music industry is likely to go over the next few years. He also hints at the future direction that the desktop version of Spotify could take.

If you want to grab the Spotify iPad app and give it a go while you’re reading, you can find it in the App Store. Hello Gustav! Congratulations on finally releasing the iPad edition! What took you guys so long?
Gustav Söderström: Well, the iPad is a unique device and experience and so we didn’t just want to build a slightly blown up version of the iOS app. Because of the large touch screen, and also because you would typically use an iPad at home, often sitting still or on a decent Wi-Fi connection (unlike the on-the-go listening on your mobile phone), the iPad is most suited to music discovery, browsing and digging deep into Spotify’s catalogue. That’s why we’ve taken the time to work on the kind of user interface would make the most sense on the iPad and we think this app gives a fluid browsing experience with rich graphics where you can drill deep in a certain direction without getting “stuck”.

What are you most proud of in the iPad app?
I’m actually very big on album artwork, because I think the artwork communicates a lot about the artist and the record. It adds a lot to the experience that an artist is trying to create, which is also why I love The Complete Collection app in the Spotify desktop client where you can dig into the album booklets the artist has created. For that reason I’m most proud of the beautiful retina resolution on the “Now Playing” full screen, which really does the beautiful album art justice. It is my new living room stereo interface.

Can you talk a bit about the design thinking that goes into upscaling a mobile app to a tablet?
Sure. Obviously, you have to take the different form factor into account. But what I think is even more important is that the use case may be totally different as well. For example, while both the iPhone and iPad are touchscreen-based experiences built on the same OS and thus technically very similar, interactive sessions with the iPhone are frequent but very short and it sometimes has a poor internet connection. This speaks for an experience that is largely focused on offline playback and quick access to your favourite content.

The iPad, on the other hand, is often used at home, with good Wi-Fi connection, while people are stationary and relaxed, spending a longer time in the interface. The iPad is also used as a home stereo remote control by many or could be playing music through Spotify while sitting in a dock charging, meaning that showing beautiful hi-res artwork in full screen mode that can be seen from a distance makes a lot of sense. So these things affect the app as much as the fact that the touchscreen is larger.

Continue reading the rest of the story on Wired Magazine