Spotify Is Testing Smoother Proximity Hand-Offs Between Phones and Speakers

With competition between music streaming services continuing to intensify, Spotify is focusing on smooth peripheral hand-offs.

Spotify is now testing a new feature that will allow users to hand-off music playback between two devices, such as a phone and a smart speaker system.

The feature works by first letting you select your favorite devices in the Spotify app.  Once you’ve done this, the Spotify app will track your proximity to these devices.  Then, when you’re close enough to a particular speaker, it will notify you and ask you if you want to hand-off playback to the nearby speaker.  Or, it may just do it automatically, depending on your preferences.

So, for example, if you have selected your smart speaker system as your favorite device, you could conceivably hand-off playback of Spotify to it as soon as you get home, with (or without) a single click on your phone. This means that you will no longer have to dig through a menu of devices to manually switch playback.

So far, the feature is getting mixed results from those who have tested it.

Early testers are complaining that the feature, which has not yet been officially released, does not always provide notifications when it should.  Nor does it seem to work with all Spotify Connect devices.

Still, these same testers say that when the feature does work, it works well, and Spotify is likely to soon fix the flaws. So perhaps this feature is somewhere in the alpha/beta stage of development.

Actually, Spotify has been enabling handoffs for quite some time through Connect. In our testing with Raumfeld wifi-connected speakers, for example, hand-offs are pretty easy, though you have to manually move things around.  In fact, it’s unclear if proximity-based alerts and hand-offs are overkill, though consumers will ultimately answer that question.

Not to be outdone, Apple is also planning to implement a similar feature within the context of the long-awaited release of iOS 13, which is expected to go live sometime this fall.

The feature, which was announced earlier this year, will specifically allow you to switch playback of music from your iPhone or iPad to your HomePod.

Apple does have a decisive advantage if all of the devices are within its own ecosystem.  But non-Apple devices may present some challenges.