One of the best features of Spotify has been in the desktop app since forever, but it hasn't been available on the mobile app: the Friend Activity sidebar enables you to see what your Spotify friends and Facebook pals are listening to. I used it to judge my friends harshly, but I'm told it's also a great way of discovering new music. And now you can get it on mobile, whether you're listening on an iPhone or one of the best Android phones.
According to Chris Messina (opens in new tab) posting on Twitter, "Spotify has a new Community Hub to see what your friends are listening to live and what playlists they've recently updated." It isn't the Friend Activity sidebar in full – there isn't room for that – but it has much of the same functionality.
You can test the new Spotify on iOS right now
The new feature hasn't been released yet but it's hiding in plain sight: if you type "spotify:community" into the address bar of Safari on iPhone or iPad you can check out the test area for yourself.
This imminent new feature is a reminder of a very different Spotify, a music service that was built primarily on sharing your enthusiasm for music rather than paying terrible old men huge sums to rant about marginalised people in their podcasts. One of the reasons I was on Spotify rather than its rivals for so long (I'm no longer a subscriber, largely because of the aforementioned terrible old men) was the ability to subscribe to friends' and interesting strangers' feeds, and the mobile app feels a lot less social than the desktop app. So it's good to see Spotify bringing some old-school shareability to its mobile app too.
It's not enough to tempt me back, though. I've gone all-in on Apple: as someone whose entire family is on various Apple devices it makes much more sense to have an Apple One bundle that includes the Apple Music family plan than pay a separate subscription to Spotify. And because I reckon the best headphones for me are AirPods Max, I appreciate the Spatial Audio stuff that Apple Music offers – most recently in the new Harry Styles album. If you have or can borrow a set of AirPods it's well worth a listen, and the spatial stuff is lots of fun.