Spotify just released a beta version of its new app, Spotify Lite, which claims to “save space” and “save data” - according to its description on the Google Play Store. Spotify Lite is not available to download from the UK Play Store quite yet (despite being listed here), but nonetheless, it’s possible to download the Spotify Lite apk if you’re eager to try it out. Of course, this is precisely what I’ve done, so let’s look at Spotify Lite and what it offers in its current beta form.
Is it lightweight?
As a long-term user of Spotify, one of my longstanding complaints about the Spotify app is that it uses a huge amount of space on my smartphone. If we excuse the cache, which exists to help cut down on buffering and cellular data usage, the Spotify app uses in excess of 100 MB of storage. The Spotify Lite app, on the other hand, uses a mere 14 MB - that’s more than 7x smaller.
The app lives up to its promise of saving space, but will it also save data? Well, downloading music for offline playback isn’t supported in Spotify Lite, so if you’re the type of person who exclusively listens to downloaded music when without WiFi, then Spotify Lite certainly won’t help you save data. On the other hand, the app has a pretty neat settings page for limiting and keeping track of Spotify’s data usage. I can see this being handy if you want to set aside a proportion of your data allowance for music streaming.
Simply put, the sound quality is awful. Even when listening with a cheap pair of earphones, Spotify’s heavy compression is glaringly apparent. If you’ve ever been put on hold and heard waiting music, the listening experience is something like that. After testing a few different genres in Spotify Lite, the common theme is that vocals come across fine, but instrumentation and percussion are often badly distorted, detracting from the song.
The abysmal sound quality is simply the result of compressing songs to save data. The ‘normal’ streaming bitrate on the full Spotify app is 96 kb/s, which I personally think sounds fine for the vast majority of genres. Spotify Lite, on the other hand, is most likely using Spotify’s ‘low’ tier which streams at a staggeringly low 24 kb/s. It’s worth noting that the ‘low’ 24 kb/s bitrate is available in the full Spotify app via the settings, meanwhile, the Spotify Lite app has no way to adjust the bitrate.
Features (or lack thereof)
‘Lite’ apps often miss out on certain features, for example, the Messenger Lite app lacks support for sending GIFs and location sharing. In a similar fashion, Spotify Lite is also lacking a plethora of features which I’ve become used to having in the full Spotify app.
Firstly, even as a Spotify Premium subscriber, the lite app only allows you to shuffle play albums, playlists and artists. As somebody who enjoys listening to shuffled playlists, this isn’t the biggest problem, however, it denies me of the basic ability to play any song on demand - quite irritating.
Secondly, Spotify Lite doesn’t have support for Spotify Connect. If you haven’t used Spotify Connect before, it allows you to control the music on your other Spotify devices around the house. For example, from the Spotify app on my phone, I can control the music playing on my computer (which has the Spotify app installed). You can also use Spotify Connect to play music on a Chromecast, something I would certainly miss if I used Spotify Lite.
Lastly, your library is bundled under the ‘favourites’ tab. For some ludicrous reason, your playlists, artists and albums are all listed together in that order. As someone who has a lot of playlists, I had to scroll a long way down to reach my saved albums! Spotify should definitely improve this with sub-menus like the full Spotify app has. On the other hand, the interface is very clean and it doesn’t lag, which is a nice improvement.
In conclusion, is it worth using Spotify Lite over the full Spotify app? In my opinion, no. There are simply too many features missing for me to use it as my main music streaming app, but the app is still in beta so there’s still plenty of time for it to develop into a useful app. For now, I’ll have to surrender my storage space to the full Spotify app.
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