With nearly 100 million paying subscribers around the world, Spotify is the biggest music streaming service, delivering tens of millions of tracks to your phone, computer, car, smart speaker and other devices for a flat monthly fee. But whether or not you've given it a spin, there are a few helpful settings you might not know about yet, since the app for iOS and Android is constantly evolving to help Spotify maintain its lead.
Let's show you five tips and tricks that should improve your quality of life when streaming Spotify.
Tweaking your audio quality to optimize for your storage and earphones
Spotify's default audio quality settings are probably fine for most users. But if you have a nice pair of earbuds or headphones that can genuinely pick up on extra sonic detail, and you have some extra storage on your device, you might as well take advantage of what you've got.
To do so, tap Your Library at the bottom right, then the gear icon in the upper right, then go to the Music Quality section and tap the drop-down menus to the right to change Streaming and Download from "Normal" to "High" or "Very High."
Note that if you're using mobile data to stream to your device, higher quality levels can use up several gigabytes per month, so we recommend either an unlimited plan, downloading tracks on Wi-Fi ahead of time, or streaming on Wi-Fi to avoid extra data fees.
If you're worried about higher quality levels taking up too much storage space for music downloads, the Android version of Spotify displays a meter below that shows you exactly how much space your tracks are taking up. To see this meter in the iOS version, tap Storage in the Settings section.
The iOS version of Spotify also comes with an equalizer to fine-tune your bass and treble. Just go to the Playback section in the app's settings, then tap Equalizer. You can choose from a list of presets, or you can drag the different frequency channels up and down to make a custom preset.
Cast music to a smart speaker or home theater system
If you want to listen to Spotify on a set of speakers instead of your phone or tablet, there are a number of ways to do so. For example, many smart TVs have Spotify connectivity built in. If you sign into Spotify on that device, and it's on the same Wi-Fi network as your phone, you should be able to use the casting function to redirect your tunes from your phone to your TV.
If your speaker has Bluetooth, and you've paired it with your phone, it should also show up as a "casting target." A Chromecast streaming dongle will also work, as will Apple's AirPlay system for iPhones and iPads. The company's Spotify Gear website can show you all of the devices that are compatible with the service's casting feature.
This is arguably easier than trying to navigate Spotify using your TV's remote control, because you can move around the mobile app's interface quickly with your fingers, or search using your voice.
Note that in most cases, you must be a paying subscriber to get access to casting. But once you have casting set up, you can wield it by beginning a stream of your tunes, tapping "Devices available" at the bottom of the screen, and selecting your casting target from the list. From there, you can use the app's controls or the buttons on your streaming device's remote control to play, pause and advance to the next track.
Use Spotify playlists for your alarm clock sound on Android devices
A mobile phone can be a handy device to use as an alarm clock, but you may not be aware that you have more choices than a preset list of alarm sounds. (Unfortunately, this feature isn't available to iOS users, but they can set up Apple Music with an iPhone's pre-installed clock app instead.)
To wake up to Spotify music on an Android device, you'll need Google's clock app, which may be pre-installed on your phone (as well as the Spotify app, but that probably goes without saying). Open the Clock app, tap the alarm you want to change, tap the alarm sound, tap the Spotify tab to the far right, and choose your music.
Spotify features a number of playlists through this interface that are specially designed for waking up in the morning. When you've set it up, your Android device should produce a system notification from Spotify saying, "Clock is connected."
If you like, you can also use Pandora here, or YouTube Music. However, the YouTube Music function requires you to be a paying subscriber, which is not the case for the other two services.
Use a virtual assistant to play artists, tracks, albums and playlists hands-free
One of the great things about tech like Siri and the Google Assistant is that they let you navigate an app without having to understand its visual layout. In fact, if you do it right, you don't even need to open Spotify directly. Just get your virtual assistant to do all the legwork.
You do need to change a few settings in the Google Assistant app to make everything click, but it's not too tricky. Just open the app on iOS or Android, tap the inbox icon that has three lines coming out of it, then your profile picture in the upper right, (then Settings if you're on Android), then the Services tab and then Music.
Here you should see a list of streaming services that you can use with the Google Assistant to control your music. Your choices will vary from one device to another. For example, the Apple Music option only shows up for iOS devices. But if you have the Spotify app installed, it should show up here, and you can follow the on-screen instructions to link the service to your Google Assistant.
Now when you use a "Hey Google" command to select your tunes, you don't have to specify which service you want to use. It will automatically choose the streaming platform that you selected as your default. (Side note: CNET has an exhaustive list of all the Hey Google voice commands that may be available to you.)
Also be aware that Spotify now has its own built-in voice recognition that's worth experimenting with. When you tap Search in the Spotify app, there's a microphone icon in the upper right. Tap that, tell Spotify what you want to hear, and it will automatically begin streaming.
To pause, just tap anywhere on the screen. To resume, tap again. To exit this screen, tap the arrow in the upper left in the iOS app, or the X in the upper left of the Android app. You can also use this screen to cast audio to another device. In fact, during our testing, we were able to cast from an iPhone to an Android phone.
The main drawback to Spotify's built-in voice search is that you can't use it while the screen is off, like you can with system-level AIs like Siri on iOS or the Google Assistant on Android. But it's at least an option if your device's AI isn't finding what you want.
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Settings to help avoid extra mobile data fees
If your phone is on a limited data plan (or your "unlimited" plan's throttling is about to kick in), streaming media can be a challenge, but Spotify gives you a number of tools to manage your data usage. One we've already mentioned: your audio quality settings. The lower the quality, the less data you use.
In fact, at the top of your Spotify settings, you'll find a Data Saver mode that you can toggle at any time to set your music quality to low. If we go to the Playback section of the app's settings, there's also an Offline mode. Tapping this will restrict your listening to the tracks that you've downloaded to your device
Another feature you should be on top of is Autoplay. This queues and automatically streams additional related music when you reach the end of a playlist, but it doesn't have a function to detect if you are using Wi-Fi or mobile data. So if you want to prevent Autoplay from eating into your mobile data, you need to have it off when you're not connected to Wi-Fi.
Last but not least, the Music Quality section has a setting called "download using cellular," which is pretty self-explanatory. Enabling that uses your mobile data when you're not connected to Wi-Fi. With this setting disabled, you can still select tracks to download. You just can't start receiving them until you're on a Wi-Fi network.
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