Today we’re going to take a look at Simplify, an attractive and convenient way to interact with Spotify from your desktop.
Read on to see if you should download Simplify to help manage your Spotify addiction!
As you likely already know, Spotify recently hit the U.S. causing a wave of new excited users to the awesome service. Instead of limiting you to radio stations with automated streams like Pandora, Spotify is more like Rdio and allows you to hear what you want, when you want, free. It’s a beautiful thing and I’ve barely turned it off since scoring an invite.
Simplify is a utility that works alongside Spotify. Basically it’s a mini player for Spotify that sits attractively on top of your desktop and hangs out in the background until you need it. The visual is a nice little graphic of an album showing the relevant artwork and song/artist info.
The graphic has just the right amount of embellishment, it adds an attractive widget to your desktop but focuses mostly on what you really want to see: the album artwork.
If you think this looks oddly familiar, you’re right. The app is likely heavily inspired by Bowtie, a similar utility for controlling iTunes.
Two Size Options
Built into Simplify are two different size options, simply titled Big and Small. I’m on a small screen so I personally prefer the small option but if you’re on a large cinema display you might prefer the big option. Here they are compared in actual size:
Simplify isn’t all about looking pretty on your desktop, it’s quite functional as well. Hitting a specified shortcut or menu bar command will bring up the mini player, which you can use to control the currently playing selection in Spotify. By default this is just a big album art preview but on hover it changes to the series of controls on the right below.
The functions here are extremely basic: play/pause, skip, back, scrub and volume. I really like how simple it is and it works great for these functions, but I’d really love to see some more features here. For instance, the ability to star a song or shuffle the current playlist would go a long way. Most importantly though, it would make the app infinitely more useful if there were some limited browsing capabilities like the Alfred iTunes mini player.
In addition to the little desktop widget, Simplify is also a menu bar app. The menu bar controls are essentially a repeat of what you saw in the mini player, but represent a quick alternative that’s accessible from anywhere. This is nice if you’re not a fan of keyboard shortcuts and still want a quick way to control Spotify from anywhere.
Both the mini player and the menu bar app allow you to copy a sharing link to your clipboard. I really love this feature of Spotify and I’m glad that it was implemented here as well. Basically, any time you’re listening to a song and want to share it with some friends, you can quickly shoot them a link where the song can be listened to right in the browser, even if they aren’t Spotify users.
One thing that makes Simplify much more accessible is setting up global shortcuts. By default these are empty but you can assign them yourself in the Preferences menu. I really like being able to bring up the mini player at a moment’s notice with a quick keyboard shortcut, make a change and get right back to what I was doing. It makes Spotify that much more integrated into my daily routine.
Worth A Download?
I have several thoughts about this app. My first impression is that I really like it. The interface is slick and attractive and the app genuinely helps me interact with my favorite music client in a very useful and convenient way. This alone is worth a couple of bucks.
Now, that being said, I would change quite a bit if I could. For starters, the current system restricts functionality to the menu bar and mini player, which makes the little desktop widget only an aesthetic nicety. This would be fine if a single click (or even a double click) on the widget brought up the mini player, but it doesn’t. The two are fairly distinct entities.
I would like this app much better if hovering over the desktop widget gave me primitive controls like play and skip while the mini player offered more advanced functionality such as playlist switching. As it currently stands, there’s no reason for both to exist and it feels a bit like two different ideas for an app competing in one box.
Further, since the comparisons to Bowtie are inevitable, I can’t help but think there’s tons of potential here for theming and allowing users to customize the experience.
Overall though the app is off to a really solid start and if the developer continues to make improvements, I’ll gladly integrate this into my daily Spotify experience.
To sum up, Simplify is a basic but attractive mini player for controlling Spotify. If you’re looking for a quick and simple way to control Spotify from a nice HUD that stays out of the way until you need it, you should definitely check this app out. However, if you’re looking for something with tons of features and deep Spotify integration, this may not be for you.
As I said above, despite having several suggestions for improvement, I like where this app is going and am eager to see what’s in store for the future.
The developer just let me know that Simplify is about to get a whole lot better. The next version fully supports both iTunes and Spotify and features an HTML/CSS “jacket” system that allows you to build custom skins! Check out this screenshot to see it in action.
A simple and attractive mini player for Spotify that displays the album art of the currently playing song on your desktop and provides basic music player controls in a convenient HUD.7
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