By Alexandra Burlacu | Nov 18, 2012 01:00 PM EST
Spotify is testing a new way for users to stream music through any Web browser, as an alternative to the popular Spotify desktop application.
The music streaming service has confirmed on Thursday, Nov. 15, that a beta version of the Spotify Web app has started rolling out to a small group of users.
According to The Verge, the beta version of the Spotify Web site looks similar to the desktop software, and packs many of the same features, including playlist editing, Spotify Radio, as well as a "What's New" section. Just like the existing desktop version of Spotify, the Web version will offer free, ad-supported streaming for millions of songs on demand. Spotify did not provide an exact date for when the option would become available to a larger audience.
In a statement to The Next Web (TNW), Spotify said that it would offer more details regarding its Web player next year. The idea of a browser version of Spotify is not to replace the existing desktop version, but to offer an alternative.
"We can confirm we've launched a beta version of a Spotify web player that we're testing with a small number of users. Potentially it's a great feature for times you can't play music through the desktop app, like at work or at a friend's house," Spotify told The Next Web.
As PCWorld points out, offering both a desktop version and a Web version at the same time makes sense, because integration with the user's local music library and other such features would not necessarily work in a Web app. It remains unclear at this point whether the Web site will support Spotify apps. The screenshot obtained by The Verge does not show the feature anywhere.
A Web app would be a great alternative nonetheless, especially considering that users can't always install the software everywhere they go, on every computer they use. Besides, most rival music services, including Rdio, Rhapsody, Mog, and Grooveshark, already have Web apps. Microsoft's new Xbox Music service, however, does not have a Web app.
A browser-based version of the player has been one of Spotify's most requested features, and one of the top differences between Spotify and its main competitor Rdio. According to The Verge, the Spotify Web player is currently live in some regions, and users will receive a Facebook invite when the service is ready.
Spotify has not detailed its plans for beta access, but the player seems to be on track for an early 2013 release. Currently, trying to access the beta version returns an error message for most users who are not in the test group.
"We're currently testing this service on a limited number of users. So please bear with us," reads the message, which then invites users to download Spotify in the meantime.