Spotify Connect takes on AirPlay, dozens of speakers to support new streaming option

Spotify is to take on Sonos and Apple's AirPlay offering with a new feature it is rolling out in the coming weeks. Called Spotify Connect, a new button within the company's iPhone and iPad apps (an Android version is coming very quickly soon after) will allow users to send music from the app straight to a Spotify Connect speaker nearby.

Rather than get into the hardware business itself, Spotify has teamed up with a number of partners including Argon, Bang & Olufsen, Denon, Marantz, Philips, Pioneer, Revo, Teufel and Yamaha.

The speakers, which are going to be flooding German consumer tech show IFA 2013 this week, will have to be connected to the internet, and on the same Wi-Fi connection to work.

The good news for customers, as Pascal de Mul, Spotify's global head of hardware partnerships told Pocket-lint, is that some devices already on the market, like Pioneer's SMA range, will work with the system after a simple firmware upgrade.

"We aren't going to do bespoke Spotify embeds into any system going forward," explains de Mul, perhaps spelling danger for the likes of Sonos in the future.

The system, which has been in development for some time, will only work with streaming content rather than local MP3s, and will need a Premium account to work. At the moment it will also only allow you to send music to a single device, but that could change in the future.

The idea is that users will turn to the Spotify app on their phone to control the dozens of new speaker systems that will come in the future and allow Spotify users to benefit from the numerous features Spotify continues to add - it currently adds and tweaks the iOS app every three weeks.

"We've got the best client for music there is," adds de Mul, who hopes people will ditch any dedicated app or remote they are already using to control their speaker. "We are great at making a music service; we are going to leave it to our partners to make great devices."

Because of the way the system works, the music can be controlled via any Spotify app in the room, including someone else's.

Spotify says that unlike Apple's AirPlay, once you've pressed the Spotify Connect button, your phone will be free to do whatever else you need to do. It also means that your mates will be able to share their own playlists or music if they have the Spotify app and your Wi-Fi password.

"Today, listening to music at home can be a frustrating experience - dropouts, below-par audio quality, signal range and phone restrictions, battery drainage, it's basically a hassle," said Sten Garmark, VP product management at Spotify. "Spotify Connect solves this by giving you effortless control of your music across your phone, tablet and now speakers with millions of songs built right in."

Spotify Connect will roll out to Spotify Premium subscribers on iPhone, iPad and home audio systems over the coming months, with Android and desktop updates to follow.



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