Spotify is experimenting with a free music streaming app called Stations. The new app, which appears to be available only in Australia, was quietly released in the Play Store Tuesday.
As the name suggests, Stations is a radio-like service that creates customized stations based on users’ preferences. It’s a bit like Pandora in that it’s also ad-based, but it’s not quite as flexible.
Users log in with a Spotify account and the app automatically plays genre-based radio stations like “jazz” or “indie.” Users can customize their station list, but they can’t skip songs or create brand-new stations.
Instead, the app automatically creates new stations based on what music you’ve been listening to. Spotify subscribers will also recognize playlists that make it into their normal Spotify rotation, like Release Radar and Discover Weekly.
Though the description in the Google Play Store notes that the app is an experiment, it sounds like Spotify is positioning Stations as a free Pandora alternative for those who are overwhelmed by or don’t want to pay for on-demand music.
“When you have access to all the music in the world, finding the right thing to play can feel like a challenge,” the app’s description says. “With Stations, you can listen immediately, and switching stations is simple and seamless—no searching or typing needed.”
The app also stands to fill an important gap in Spotify’s mobile offerings. Though the company already offers a free version of its on-demand service, it’s only available on desktop. Mobile users are stuck with a much more limited service that only allows you to play artists and albums on shuffle.
Stations, on the other hand, could be a way for Spotify to win over more users on mobile. By offering more personalized playlists, Stations could help the company better compete with free alternatives like Pandora.