Strava has been around since 2009, but today the popular fitness app is finally, Finally add Spotify integration in the app. Instead of having to switch between apps, you can now access your Spotify favorites from the workout recording screen. And, perhaps the best part is that you don’t need a Spotify or Strava subscription to use it.
“This is just one of those things that we know people have been asking for for a long time, and eventually the stars have aligned,” said Mateo Ortega, vice president of connected partnerships at Strava. Asked about the possibility of adding other platforms, Ortega didn’t rule that out, but noted that Spotify was a clear first step.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand why the Strava and Spotify partnership matters. Spotify is the most popular audio streaming service. Strava is one of the most popular fitness apps. Millions of people rely on music, podcasts, and audiobooks to distract themselves from the physical agony of a grueling workout (or, you know, to keep them motivated during tough times). But aside from the obvious, an in-app Spotify widget eliminates the need to switch between apps every time you want to change music. Less time fumbling on your phone means you’re more likely to stay in the zone.
On the other hand, the integration seems like a long overdue addition – one that may be too late now that smartwatches and fitness trackers can also stream music. For example, I personally found this to be a bigger issue when relying on my phone to track workouts circa 2013. Additionally, several other fitness apps have added Spotify or Apple Music integrations over the years.
That said, when I tried the integration for myself, I could see the appeal. All you have to do is press the record button and then select the music icon in the right corner. From there, you are prompted to connect your Spotify account. Once done, you can browse your top mixes in a small widget in the Spotify app. It’s a bit different from some other music integrations I’ve tried. In the Runkeeper app, for example, enabling Spotify just redirects me to the app’s running playlist page. That doesn’t actually take me to the playlists I’ve painstakingly curated. Similarly, the Apple Music integration automatically plays a single playlist and displays only the current track at the top of the screen.
It’s a small difference, but I was pleasantly surprised by the in-app widgets approach of Strava. Not only can you swipe up to see what’s in the queue, but you can also browse through various mixes – those you’ve curated yourself, as well as playlists created by Spotify.
“If people forget they had to open Spotify, go back to Strava and save, and to change a song, go back to Spotify – if that changes their behavior and keeps them in the moment? That’s how it’s going to be a good integration for us,” says Ortega.
The only quirk I noticed is that if you pause for a long time, you’ll be asked if you want to continue listening. You’ll need to re-authorize Spotify, although that part happens automatically once you press play again.
This integration ultimately works best for users who use the Strava app to record workouts, as opposed to those importing them from other services or trackers. Even so, this decision reinforces Strava’s status as a de facto fitness center.
“Our strategy has always been to be the Switzerland of fitness equipment.”
Right now, the digital fitness and wellness space is made up of a bunch of little fiefdoms; There are a ton of apps for tracking errands, trips, nutrition, and route planning, but only a handful of ways to view all your data in one place. But while you can consolidate your data within Apple and Google’s health APIs, that leaves a gaping hole in terms of community. As Fitbit recently proved, making social features hardware-dependent has its drawbacks when social features are shut down or friends switch to a different platform.
“Our strategy has always been to be the Switzerland of fitness equipment. We want everything to work with Strava,” says Ortega.
And by all, Ortega isn’t really exaggerating. The Lululemon mirror, Peloton bikes and other gear, Garmins, Apple Watches, Komoot, Zwift and MyFitnessPal – these are just a few of the platforms that work with Strava. That’s what makes Strava’s aggressive onboarding strategy smart. No matter what fitness tracker or app you use, you can always connect with friends regardless of platform. So it’s no surprise that Strava has become a popular tool place to share your fitness achievements And keep your data in one place. Adding Spotify to the mix just gives Strava users more reason to stick around.
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