Spotify, a platform for streaming music, is creating a new feature called Community that will enable users of mobile devices to view the playlists that their friends have recently updated as well as the music that they are currently streaming in real-time.
The company currently provides a similar “Friend Activity” feature on desktop computers, but users’ access to the same Friend Activity on mobile devices was previously restricted.
TechCrunch contacted Spotify for comment, and the company acknowledged that the feature was in its early testing stages but would not provide further information.
By utilizing its Facebook integration to expand its friend graph, the company’s beginnings as social music streaming app aided in its early development. Later on, however, Spotify focused more on personalization tools to set itself apart from streaming competitors. More so than watching what friends stream, playlists made specifically for each listener, like Spotify’s flagship Discover Weekly, had been assisting in attracting and retaining users. As a result, the product de-emphasis of the company’s emphasis on users’ individual friend networks.
Despite the fact that some users continued to want access to their friends’ mobile activity, the company decided not to add this feature in 2019 after a user request garnered 7,451 votes on its community forums.
A New Path?
Mobile users can access this new Community feature by typing “Spotify: community” into the Safari browser on their iOS device, even though it is currently not publicly surface able in the app. Chris Messina posted a video of the feature on Twitter earlier this month along with a long list of updates to the Spotify app, and it was Messina who discovered the addition.
A vertically scrollable list of friends and what they are currently listening to, along with timestamps for when that listening occurred, can be found below the horizontal row of Playlist Updates at the top of the Community hub that appears in the app.
Animated music equalizer bars appear next to the name and music choice of those who are actively listening. Otherwise, the display will display when and what your friend streamed while using Spotify. Spotify added timestamps to the playlist updates in an updated version of the Community tab so you can see the most recent additions.
In the tests carried out by TechCrunch, the feature didn’t seem to be fully operational. Currently, tapping a playlist displays the song list; however, tapping a friend’s music does not allow you to play the song as well. When or if the feature is made available to the general public, that will probably change.
Spotify still maintains a close relationship with Meta despite not giving its Friend Activity features top priority (Facebook). Even though younger generations are increasingly discovering new music via TikTok and many Gen Z users don’t even have a Facebook account, Spotify users’ social graphs still rely on a Facebook integration. For instance, Spotify and Facebook collaborated on a mini-player last year that allowed users to stream Spotify content from the Facebook app. But before abandoning a number of audio projects to concentrate on its metaverse initiatives, Facebook briefly competed with Spotify on podcasts.
It would be even more exciting to add a social feature to mobile, but the current iteration of the feature doesn’t seem to be decoupled from Facebook in any way.