Spotify tests emergency notifications in Sweden

Spotify tests emergency notifications in Sweden

Music, podcasts, audiobooks… emergency notifications? Spotify’s latest test sees the streaming app breaking new ground with a test of an emergency notification system in its home market of Sweden. According to code references in the Spotify app, the company is considering a system that would help distribute public announcements regarding things like “accidents, serious events or disruptions to important services.”

The company confirmed to TechCrunch that it is testing such a system, but did not explain why it would be interested in offering this kind of service to its users. There is no Swedish law requiring the app to do so, and Spotify says it is currently only investigating whether the app could support something like an emergency alert system.

The feature was first discovered by technologist and reverse engineer Chris Messina, who theorized that an emergency alert service could encourage Spotify users to turn on their app notifications. Users often disable alerts from non-essential apps, such as those in the social networking or entertainment space, making it harder for the app to grab users’ attention and promote its new features.

But more broadly, supporting emergency notifications could also cement Spotify’s position as a more essential app to have on hand. It also steps into Meta territory, as the social network has offered users ways to get updates during major disasters with its Safety Check feature for nearly a decade. Google has also leveraged the popularity of its app to warn users about disasters, such as with its earthquake alerts on Android. In the U.S., lawmakers have previously considered the idea of ​​requiring online video and streaming apps to support emergency notifications, alongside TV and radio stations and cable TV systems.

In the code references in the Spotify app, the function is mentioned in the following sentences:

  • “Emergency notifications in Sweden”
  • “Receive public emergency notifications”
  • “Important Public Announcement, IPA, is the system used in Sweden to warn the public in the event of accidents, serious events or disruptions to important services.”
  • “Visit the Swedish Civil Registry Agency’s website for more information.”

A Spotify spokesperson confirmed the test in a statement, adding that the test is currently only being conducted in Sweden.

“At Spotify, we routinely run a number of tests to improve our user experience,” they said. “Some of those tests ultimately pave the way for our broader user experience, while most simply serve as an important learning experience.”