Like Spotify but have been reluctant to pay for access on your smart phone? Starting today you won't have to, as you'll now be able to get the streaming music service—with some restrictions—on smart phones as well as tablets without the $10 monthly subscription fee.
The free smart phone service has some limitations, mainly that while you can call up any artist available on Spotify, you have to listen to songs in shuffle, or random, mode. Paid users can play specific tracks on demand and also download tracks to their mobile devices; they also get ad-free music.
Free tablet users get an even tastier offering than free smart phone users do. That means when you're Spotifying with a tablet, you can pick specific songs on demand, with ads interspersed within the song streams. That's the same experience free computer users have. (Paying subscribers don't get the ads when on a tablet.) Company executives said that since many of its users are replacing a computer with a tablet, it no longer makes sense to differentiate them.
In a major coup, Spotify has added the entire Led Zeppelin catalog, the first time the classic rock band's music has been available on a streaming service.
Competition among streaming music services is heating up. In addition to current services from Amazon, Apple, Google, and Pandora, among others, it's rumored that both Beats Music and YouTube will enter the space in 2014.
—James K. Willcox