Spotify debuts Apple Watch app beta, challenging top streaming rival on home turf

Spotify continues to lead the music streaming industry in number of subscribers, and now it’s officially taking on its number two-ranked rival on another Apple platform. As spotted by Reddit users (via MacRumors), the company has just debuted a beta Spotify app for the Apple Watch, offering owners of the increasingly popular wearable an alternative to Apple Music.

Apple Watch users have waited years for Spotify to create an official app for the watchOS platform, a prospect that seemed far off as recently as last month. Third-party developers have tried to come up with their own Spotify clients, including Snowy and Spotty, but Spotify apparently discouraged the unofficial efforts.

Now the official app has been distributed to public beta testers via Apple’s TestFlight service. It provides users with playback controls, a recently played list, a shuffle option, and an audio input select feature. Users can stream audio, but cannot currently store songs on the Apple Watch. Apple Music allows users to use a portion of the device’s 8GB or 16GB space to hold music.

It’s clear from the app’s interface that it has been in development since before the September introduction of the Apple Watch Series 4, as it is not yet optimized for the 44mm model’s larger screen. But the very fact that it exists is an acknowledgement of the platform’s potential for continued growth, which appeared somewhat shaky when app developers began to abandon it over the past year.

Spotify remains the international leader in music streaming subscriptions, with over 87 million paid subscribers to Apple Music’s 50 million. While Apple Music is reportedly ahead of Spotify in the U.S. and Japan, Spotify is believed to have leads in other countries, and has 191 million listeners, including ad-supported users.

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