App: Spotify
Category: Music + Video
Publisher: Spotify AB
Price: FREE (requires Spotify Premium subscription)

Note: This pick is an update to my previous app pick for Spotify Beta, which is now retired.

This week, Spotify for Windows Phone 8 exited its five month beta and was released with new features including offline playlist improvements, track scrubbing and support for more languages. Music lovers with Windows Phone 8 will want to check out the new version of the app.

Nice panoramic presentation with new What's New view

Spotify for Windows Phone 8 brings the excellent Spotify service back to Microsoft’s mobile platform (the older 1.x versions of the app were delivered on Windows Phone 7.x only). If you’re not familiar with Spotify, it’s an online music service, similar in some ways to Pandora or Xbox Music Pass, that lets you listen to radio-like playlists (Pandora-like) as well as selections of songs you’ve carefully crafted (as you might with Xbox Music Pass). It also supports offline listening capabilities, assuming you pay for the right subscription.

Now Playing with scrubber support

On that note, Spotify is available in three tiers. The free version lets you listen on your PC and is ad supported. An Unlimited tier removes the ads for just $4.99 per month. And the high-end Premium tier, which costs $9.99 per month, lets you listen on mobile devices, too, and download songs for offline use.

You need the Spotify Premium subscription to use Spotify on Windows Phone 8. However, you can test it on Windows Phone for two days without entering any credit card information and then extend the trial for 30 days using the directions in an email you’ll get when you sign-up.

Playlists view with offline support

According to the firm, Spotify for Windows Phone 8 includes the following features:

  • Search, browse & play millions of tracks.
  • Explore & play - your friends' playlists, top artists and tracks.      
  • Stream over Wi-Fi or 2.5/3G - all your existing playlists are available.
  • Offline playlists - play your music without an Internet connection.
  • On-the-fly sync - every track you add to a playlist appears on mobile and computer.
  • What's New view.
  • Receive music from friends via the inbox.
  • Starred tracks tag all your favorites into a special list.
  • Receive music from friends via the Inbox.
  • Scrubbing tracks – in addition to jumping to next and previous songs, you can “scrub” within the currently-playing song.

Spotify is among a rare group of gotta-have-it apps for Windows Phone 8, alongside some of my previous app picks like LastPass and Kindle, as well as Audible, as it’s a viable alternative to Xbox Music Pass, which currently only works with Windows 8/RT/7, Windows Phone 7.5/8, Xbox 360 and the Web. Spotify by comparison is also available on Windows, Mac, iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, and Android devices.

You can download Spotify 2.0 for Windows Phone 8 from the Windows Phone Store.