There has been a lot of talk about transforming Spotify into a platform that will support audiobooks. Last year, the streaming company announced the acquisition of Findaway, an audiobook platform similar to Anchor. And according to a recent report by The Verge, Spotify executives have started pitching investors the idea of hosting audiobooks on the platform.
It would seem only a matter of time before subscribers will have access to an endless supply of audiobooks on the Spotify app, just like podcasts before. While the idea of being able to listen to audiobooks in the same app that I listen to music sounds good on paper, I can’t help but feel a certain sense of dread waiting for the impending announcement.
An app full of clutter
The Spotify mobile app has seen several major overhauls over the past few years, but the way it’s currently organized leaves a lot to be desired. Finding new music and podcasts has never been easier thanks to numerous improvements to the app’s search engine, but much of the user interface has gotten significantly worse as the app was getting old.
The homepage is filled to the brim with suggested albums I’ve never heard of, podcasts I don’t listen to, and playlists for music I don’t like. Sure, there are great additions like Spotify’s custom daily mixes, but there’s too much going on with its UI in other places for the experience to be smooth.
Most of the issues I have with the Spotify app stem from the fact that it allows music and podcasts to mingle in the same spaces, making them hard to find either. If audiobooks are added to the mix, the Spotify app might tip over to the brink of being unusable due to the sheer number of worlds colliding without proper organization.
Audiobooks would definitely increase the value of a Spotify subscription. However, the current mobile app is by no means able to smoothly bring a whole new form of audio content. The idea of mixing music with podcasts with audiobooks in the current version of the app seems like a real nightmare. If the Spotify app were to integrate audiobooks, the company would have to give serious thought to how it will organize its user interface so that audiobooks are not unnecessarily added to the cacophony of album and podcast art. what is the Home tab.
How Spotify Can Fix This Mess
In my opinion, there are two solutions that Spotify could use to potentially fix the problem. The first is to create an entirely separate app for Spotify audiobooks. This is the least appealing option because managing multiple apps is almost never practical, but it could have huge benefits for separating different media. Apple was able to do this with the separate Apple Music and Apple Podcasts apps, so there’s definitely precedent for something like this working with Spotify.
The best option would probably be for Spotify to simply add more ways to organize content within the app. Instead of having just three tabs at the bottom of the screen – Home, Search and Your Library – it can be useful to merge the functions of the Home tab into the Search and Your Library tabs to make room for more options . That way, there could be room for the Music, Audiobooks, and Podcasts tabs (or something like that).
I’m obviously no app designer, but there seem to be some glaring issues with the Spotify app that would only be exacerbated by the addition of audiobooks. Spotify needs to think long and hard about how it’s going to make some sense of the mess that is the current mobile app. If not, Spotify risks losing subscribers to competing apps that are better at organizing content.