If you're all in on Spotify, you'll want to know about how Spotify Connect works in the smart home.
The music streaming service has more than 100 million paid subscribers, and even though Apple Music is doing its best to catch up (it's still around half that), it's safe to say plenty of Spotify users aren't giving up those carefully curated playlists anytime soon.
One feature of Spotify's appeal is Spotify Connect, which lets you use your phone or other device as a controller via the internet, rather than relying on Bluetooth. Read on to find out what Spotify Connect is, how to set it up and which smart speakers, TVs, receivers, smartwatches and headphones are compatible.
Spotify Connect: What does it do?
Spotify Connect works over Wi-Fi. When you have compatible speakers, TVs, streaming sticks or other devices connected to the same Wi-Fi network as your phone, tablet or computer (running Spotify), Connect Spotify streams music directly to that device, not via the phone/laptop.
This turns your phone, tablet or computer into a remote control, but also does a couple of helpful things. It frees up your phone to allow you to take phone calls without interrupting your music (as it would with Bluetooth) and saves your phone's battery too. Plus it works all over the house, including with smart speakers such as the Amazon Echo and Google Home; multi-room speaker systems; and even some cars with connected systems.
Spotify boasts that you can also switch devices "without skipping a beat" ‚Äď now, that's not 100% true as it's not always instantaneous when the music is already playing (this will also depend on your connection speed), but we much prefer switching via Spotify Connect than with Bluetooth. One handy feature is that when you switch Spotify Connect alters the volume of the speaker or other audio device to match.
Spotify Connect also streams your tunes in 320kbps, the highest quality available, even if you've selected a lower quality on your phone.
We've found that Spotify Connect complements voice controls in the home for Spotify users very nicely. For some things, voice works great ‚Äď "Alexa, play the Wine Goes In playlist" or "Hey Google, play hip hop."
But for other things ‚Äď a track from the Stranger Things soundtrack that you can't remember the name of (or the names of the two composers) say, or something like Spotify's Daily Mix 1 which voice assistants seem to struggle to handle ‚Äď getting your phone out is just quicker and less annoying for everyone else in the room.
Spotify Connect: How to get started
This is easy peasy. Spotify recommends that you update your mobile app to the latest version (of course it does). But essentially you need to do two things. First, connect the Spotify Connect-compatible device that you want the music to play on to your Wi-Fi network, i.e. the same Wi-Fi that your phone or computer is on.
Then you need to click on the Devices Available button (the speaker icon) at the bottom of the Now Playing screen in Spotify, or if you're listening on desktop, the devices icon at the bottom right of the Spotify app (next to the volume slider).
This takes you to a list of available Spotify Connect devices (they show up automatically) and then you simply click on the one you want to use, turning the text green. (This screen is also where you will find AirPlay and Bluetooth devices).
When you have selected a speaker or other device, Devices Available will change to the name of that device and the text will turn from white to green so you can keep track. As we said, your phone or computer is still the remote control for what's playing and, generally, it's very reliable in use when changing tracks.
If you're in your home and Devices Available isn't appearing in the app, check Wi-Fi is turned on and you're on the right network. Pro tip: for Alexa-powered households, say "Alexa, Spotify Connect" if you've done your troubleshooting and it still isn't appearing. This one command will save you a lot of hassle.
Spotify Connect: The devices
The list of Connect-compatible tech has grown so large that Spotify's Gear site is no longer live, however you can see a list of some on the company's support pages. There's also a page just for Spotify Connect speakers.
The only thing you need to pay attention to is whether each speaker/TV etc works with both Free and Premium or just Premium subscriptions as most of the soundbar and multi-room speakers are limited to paying users. It's actually a pretty compelling reason to go for a Premium account.
There are more than 300 products that work with Spotify Connect, from more than 80 brands, so we're not going to list them all here. But as you'll see, almost all of the big names in smart TV and home audio are covered, yet not every device in the range is compatible.