Spotify is today enabling playback of cached music on your computer even without an Internet connection -- as long as you're a Premium subscriber.
Starting later today, Premium users' playlists will include an iPhone-style button to make them available offline. Spotify already caches some music in your playlist, storing copies on your computer, but it could not previously be played back when away from the Web. The new feature is handy if you listen to Spotify on a laptop, as it makes your tunes available on holiday, on trains or anywhere without a Wi-Fi signal. It sounds like a small tweak, but it means that, in terms of music playback, Spotify now goes anywhere iTunes does.
We had a chat with Spotify to find out the details. As with the mobile app, you can store up to 3,333 tracks on any one device. You can use the offline mode across three devices -- mobile or computers -- at a time, but we've noticed that, when you start playing music on one device, playback on your other devices will pause.
The quality of cached music is the same as streamed music. Premium users get 320kbps. The default setting is 160kbps. To benefit from higher-quality music, click on 'edit', go to 'preferences', and tick the box marked 'enable high bit rate'.
You must be a Premium subscriber to use the offline feature, as with the mobile apps. Premium access currently costs £10 per month. We doubt this news will see many people slap down a tenner for the first time, but we daresay it will make existing subscribers feel better about themselves. Tell us your thoughts in the comments column -- we're due for another bout of wailing and gnashing of teeth about how ten whole pounds is too expensive when all you get is unlimited music stored on your computer and on your phone wherever you go. What a liberty.