Spotify Connect takes aim at AirPlay and Sonos

Spotify is looking to take a bigger step in to the living-room and hi-fi hardware with the launch of Spotify Connect.

The feature will embed Spotify in to wireless devices from a number of manufacturers, allowing you to play your Spotify library on the product itself while controlling the music directly on your Spotify app.

Spotify Connect will launch with ten hardware partners: Argon, Bang & Olufsen, Denon, Hama, Marantz, Philips, Pioneer, Revo, Teufel and Yamaha.

Any wireless products from these companies with the appropriate chip inside will now be able to stream music via Spotify, which can be controlled from your smartphone or tablet's Spotify app.

It will work in a similar way to AirPlay and Bluetooth but the music will be streamed from Spotify directly by the hi-fi system or speaker, not from the smartphone or tablet.

Pioneer has confirmed this morning that Spotify Connect will be available on its networked 2013 AV receivers from the VSX-528 model upwards, and the entire Pioneer SMA wireless speaker line-up. More compatible products will be revealed in the coming weeks.

Inititally set to launch on the iOS app, updates to the Android and Desktop apps are set to follow in time. The feature will add an icon to the app that commands the Spotify Connect hardware to take over playback and turns the app in to a simple remote.

This should help save battery life on the portable device, and mean unstable connections to stream music between devices will be a thing of the past.

Spotify already has tie-ins with some AV companies, such as Denon, Marantz and Onkyo, but these involve using the respective company's own app rather than Spotify itself. Spotify Connect makes the Spotify app your controller.

It also means any device connected to the Wi-Fi network and with the Spotify app installed can control a Spotify Connect system, allowing friends to jump on and control your music system.

As well as perhaps challenging AirPlay and Bluetooth wireless devices for convenience if you're a heavy Spotify user, Spotify Connect potentially affects multiroom systems such as Sonos.

Pascal de Mul, global head of hardware partnerships at Spotify, told Techcrunch that there was "no plan to extend Connect to Sonos and no plan to continue to develop with Sonos". A clear sign that Spotify plans to make a serious stab at hardware integration on its own.

UPDATE: Spotify says the quote is taken out of context. “We will continue to support and improve the Spotify experience on Sonos,” a spokesperson said rather vaguely.

Of course, Sonos still appears to offer a much more flexible solution, albeit at a price, thanks to the greater selection of apps, integration with your personal music library and multiroom functionality. Though you of course need a Sonos component – Sonos Play:3 or Play:5, or the Sonos Connect or Connect:Amp – in order to get up and running.

Spotify Connect sees Spotify looking to make its streaming product the focus of multiple manufacturers' devices and in so doing coax more people to pay for the Spotify Premium, £10/month product.

There's no initial confirmation on a Spotify Connect release date or confirmed hardware but we've contacted Spotify for more details.

via Techcrunch

by Joe Cox

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Joe Cox
Content Director

Joe is Content Director for T3 and What Hi-Fi?, having previously been the Global Editor-in-Chief of What Hi-Fi?. He has worked on What Hi-Fi? across the print magazine and website for more than 15 years, writing news, reviews and features on everything from turntables to TVs, headphones to hi-fi separates. He has covered product launch events across the world, from Apple to Technics, Sony and Samsung; reported from CES, the Bristol Show, and Munich High End for many years; and written for sites such as the BBC, Stuff, and the Guardian. In his spare time, he enjoys expanding his vinyl collection and cycling (not at the same time).