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Spotify is still the king of music streaming despite enormous investments from Apple, Google, Amazon, and others, but you have to keep moving to stay ahead. In that spirit, Spotify is now testing out a couple new features: weekly social playlists called Friends Weekly (apparently an upgrade from Discover Weekly), and a different visual design for the Now Playing interface.

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First off is Friends Weekly, whose changes were first spotted by XDA Developers. It works similarly to Discover Weekly, a popular dynamic and personalized playlist that Spotify created for users to surface new music, rather than just providing you with the same pre-determined playlists.

Unlike the Release Radar, Discover Weekly doesn't necessarily focus on recently released tracks. Instead, it chooses tracks that are similar to other songs or artists you've added in the past.

With Friends Weekly, you can see and play what your friends are streaming, or listen to a playlist that combines all of their latest streams. Since your friends' listening habits may also be influenced by their own Discover Weekly recommendations, this potentially multiplies the variety of music that you might want to check out -- basically leveraging your friends' tastes instead of relying purely on Spotify's algorithm-based suggestion system.

Right now, Friends Weekly is only available in the beta version of the Spotify app, and the company is not currently taking new testers.

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The other update to the Spotify app doesn't change the content, though, just how you access it. Android Police scored an advance look and reported that the fonts and buttons have been enlarged, the "Devices Available" label has been removed and its icon moved to the lower left corner, a share button has been added to the bottom right corner, the three-dot menu is now in the upper right corner, the repeat button has been moved to another screen.

Last but not least, the check mark has been replaced by a heart, which is placed below the progress bar instead of above it. Also, when you tap the three-dot menu, there are now three large icons at the top of the screen to shuffle, set a song on repeat, or access your queue.

The Now Playing update is part of a server-side test, so some users will see them and others will not. It's not tied to a specific version of the app, either. Spotify will simply flip a switch on its side, and you only need to restart the app to see the changes. So if you see the update on your phone or tablet, don't forget to gloat to all your friends who don't have it yet.

However, this sort of A/B testing may not actually result in the new features getting added to the app later. Friends Weekly and the new Now Playing design may also continue to evolve until Spotify gets them into their Goldilocks zone.

The takeaways

  • Spotify is testing two new features: Friends Weekly, which lets you listen to what your friends are streaming, and an update to the visual design of Now Playing.
  • Friends Weekly is currently only in the beta version of the Spotify app, and the changes to Now Playing may or may not appear on your phone or tablet, regardless of what version you have.

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Tom McNamara is a Senior Editor for CNET's Download.com. He mainly covers Windows, mobile and desktop security, games, Google, streaming services, and social media. Tom was also an editor at Maximum PC and IGN, and his work has appeared on CNET, PC Gamer, MSN.com, and Salon.com. He's also unreasonably proud that he's kept the same phone for more than two years.