UPDATE (30 September 2019): Spotify has finally listened to it’s customers: The Android Home Screen Widget for Spotify is back! This article shall be, however, kept online to show the importance for companies to do proper consumer insight and research to understand their usage habits well, before making changes that could potentially upset them. It appears that some customers were unhappy enough to shift completely from Spotify to Tidal, all because of this change. 

Update Source: https://www.theverge.com/2019/9/4/20849156/spotify-android-widget-update-home-screen-notifications 

Any audiophiles (or music lovers) using Android and Spotify would have certainly noticed this obvious change if they updated their Spotify App recently.

What changed? Well, for some reason, other than some (pretty unobvious) fixes and minor (albeit useless) changes to their app navigation UI, Spotify REMOVED the homescreen widget feature, without first notifying users.

Just in case you do not know what pointing out, I’m talking about this widget:

spotify widget Credit: 9to5 Google.

No Thanks to this sudden removal of the feature, my Android home screen now has a void where the Spotify music control widget used to be.

Screenshot_2019-08-19-01-17-34.png

What annoys me about this sudden loss of a feature is how nonchalant Spotify seems to be in regard to the whole issue. Despite numerous demands from premium subscribers like myself on their forums to add the feature back in, Spotify responded by closing the forum, and getting people to “suggest” for the idea back on their “Live Ideas” forum.

And Guess what happened next? Despite more than 1700 upvotes and demands for the feature, Spotify simply responded that they do not intend to add the feature back, which in effect, resulting in other customers being unable to vote to get this feature back. 

So, Why am I Unhappy?

Reason #1: Spotify has forgotten the basic principle of making money:

Making your Customers Happy.

The way Spotify has handled this situation tells me that it is a company that does not listen to its customers. 

Despite the large outcry for spotify to simply add the feature back to their next build, they responded to their customer’s demands with a level of arrogance, by closing the relevant threads and promptly shooting down their customer’s demands, effectively telling all customers they do not wish to consider adding back the feature,

Another feature which Spotify removed years ago was the ability to see who is following your Spotify playlist. This is yet another sorely missed feature, which many customers (me included) want to see brought back. In many ways, history has repeated itself and Spotify still does not listen to its customers today!

Reason #2: Forcing your customers to change their usage patterns is usually a bad idea

In the first post to this Spotify Forum thread, Spotify basically reasoned that they removed this feature as the lock screen widget and Spotify navigation bar is supposedly a “good enough” alternative that allows people to control their music playback.

However, there is one major problem with both “kludge solutions” that Spotify offered: There is no way you can Start your initial music playback from those methods, as these navigation bars and lock screen widgets are usually not always available on screen.  Both solutions are only displayed when a song is currently being played (or paused) on Spotify.

When it comes to home screens, I’m usually very organized. I like my phone to unlock with a touch of the fingerprint sensor, and from the home screen, be immediately able to do important tasks – That includes resuming playback from my playlist, with a simple touch of the “Play” button on the spotify homescreen that used to be there.

However, with the removal of this feature, I am now forced to manually open the Spotify App, select a playlist, and play the song that I would like.

Here’s a lesson all companies can take note: No customers likes to “adapt” to sudden changes to the UI without warning. Expecting customers to “cooperate” and change their usage patterns to adapt a kludge solution is always a bad idea. Don’t take that from me, There have been past incidences affirming this too: Just see how bad the adoption rate for the original version of Windows 8 was! Back in the day, Many potential customers actually refrained from using Windows 8 (with some even downgrading their new computers to Windows 7), because of the drastic change in the Navigation UI.

Sure, this scenario sounds like a trivial, minor inconvenience that customers should be able to adapt to. However, why should a company risk dealing with all that backlash, especially with Reason #3?  Why not just leave things as is?

Reason #3: Removing chunks of code just to make the app smaller isn’t really useful to customers anymore

In this modern day and age, where storage space is reasonably cheap, the only advantage that I can think of with the removal of this feature is that it helps to save on the spotify app’s memory footprint – be it in terms of idle memory (RAM) usage, or total space used on the phone storage.

However, with most decent phones having at least 32GB of phone storage and more than 3GB of RAM (Actually, many phones having more than that amount!) , this whole decision to remove the android home screen widget still does not make sense to me.

How would #TechWithAaron go about doing this, if I was Spotify? 

To me, There are only 2 ways that I would consider, which I would list below:

  1. Don’t Fix What Ain’t broke!  The saying “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” really applies well here. If customers do not mind having the feature, don’t annoy them by suddenly removing it, and worse still, basically telling customers to “get used to it”.
    Customers always have options and are free to move to competitors, and if Spotify continues to not listen to user feedback, they might need to soon be the ones that need to get used to having less revenue from their premium subscriptions.
  2. Or…Remove it and immediately make it available as a separate add-on. Sure, there are some low-end Smartphones that may appreciate the minuscule decrease in memory footprint that this feature removal brings. A much better way to achieve this goal would be to package this android home screen widget feature as a seperate package install available in Google Play. This would allow customers that really want this feature to still have an option to get back their needed features, while catering to others that may want a lighter Spotify App.

What can we as customers do for now? 

Well, other than adapting, we can explore these options:

  1. Use Tasker Integration: There is a handy guide that allows users to get back the spotify widget functionality using Tasker. However, this is a cumbersome process that customers should not have to do in the first place. In addition, This clunky integration could surely decrease battery performance as Tasker is not specially optimized to simply offer this feature alone.
  2. Demand for it! Email Spotify’s support, to get them to reconsider adding the feature back
  3. The most extreme? Vote with your wallet. If Google Play Music, Pandora, Tidal or Apple Music is a viable option to you, try it and see if their lock screen widget fills the void better. 😉

In my view, the goal of any profit-driven Company should always be putting customer’s first. If customers want a certain feature or have certain expectations, always strive to meet (or exceed) them! Don’t do things that would annoy them. 

Any company that does not follow this rule would find itself returning to this fundamental truth when their sales revenue drops enough to sound alarm bells in the company’s upper management.