Android App Review: Slacker

Sydney Myers
Teen Lifestyle Editor from Dallas, TX
Published: June 23, 2010

Overview

The Good: Free app; great customization; easy to use and figure out.

The Bad: Ad supported; paid version gives you more options; free version has slowly lost features that have moved into the paid version; a FEW glitches.

The Verdict: I’ve tried different internet radio web sites and apps. Slacker Radio is the best for easy customization and features. Obviously, the paid version is better, but you can get by just fine with the free version.

Review

Slacker Personal Radio started as a website and moved into the app market, so most of the features can be accessed only from the website. From Slacker.com, you can create your own radio station (several, if you want to), name it whatever you want, and pick which artists will play on that station. You can choose if you want only hits to be played or just any song from your chosen artists. You can also choose if you would like new songs, old songs, or songs from any time period. If you would like for Slacker Radio to play bands that are similar to the ones you chose, you can turn on Artist Discovery. These settings also have varying levels so it's just not Hits only or any song. You can choose Hits, Familiar, Deeper, or Fringe. Artist Discovery can be set to Off, Some, More, or Max. (Artist Discovery was formerly a choice with the free version, but now it must be on unless you have a paid subscription. You can, however, set it to Some, the lowest setting.) To top it all off, not only can you choose which bands the station plays and how popular the songs have to be, you can Heart songs so they'll play more often, Ban a song so it will never be played again, and even ban an artist all-together. You can even request songs (up to 10 with the free version). Basically, Slacker Radio only plays what you tell it to play, with a slight sprinkle of new stuff.

The only down-side to all of this is that those customization features can only be reached from the website itself. However, while this is just a review of the Android app, I had to tell you about all of the features that are at your disposal once you download the app.

With the app, you can still ban songs and artists, choose your favorite songs, play any custom station that Slacker has automatically created for each genre, and play all of your custom and recently played stations.(Did I mention that you can create custom stations based on a particular artist? Just type in the name and Slacker will automatically choose other artists that are similar.)

The design is very industrial-looking. Slacker has managed to put more color in their app than Pandora did, but it's still pretty basic. Opening the app takes you to a list of stations you can play, including any that you've created, and once you choose a station the next screen shows the album art for the song currently playing as well as buttons for play/pause, skip, Heart, and Ban, with the artist name at the very top of the screen. The Upgrade function is ever-present, showing up in the Now Playing screen and the pop up menu as well as when you close the app. The menu allows you to change a few settings, basic things that mostly have to do with the way the app and its widget function. The menu is also where you'll find the Quit function, which you have to select in order to fully close the app. Simply pressing home will take you to your home screen, but the widget will still be active.

The widget itself is a very handy tool that allows you to see the album art as well as the song currently playing and the artist. You can also play or pause the song, skip to the next song, Heart a song, or Ban it. It's small too so it will only take up one row on your screen.

All in all, the app and it's widget functions very well. There will be a few hiccups here and there though. The app may mistakenly show the album art for the song played before the one currently playing and you may have slow load times occasionally. For the most part, once the app is fully loaded, song switching, skipping, and general navigating is pretty quick and easy.

I've been using Slacker Radio as my personal internet radio for a few years now and as much as I have loved the online service, the app performs just as well. It's simple, still has plenty of music options and will rarely give you any problems. Though you'll have to go directly to Slacker.com for most of the customizing (which I recommend you do as it really adds the experience and performance of the app as a whole) the app has enough standard features to keep you satisfied. The widget is equally as functional and I've never had to force close either one. Top all it off with a "Free" sticker next to the name and you've got yourself and perfect choice. Compared to other internet/personal radio services I've used (and I've tried many) Slacker beats them all.