Pandora shmandora. I've had enough of hearing the same song cycle over and over (and over) again. It can't quite seem to get my taste right. (Just because I like Journey doesn't mean I dig all the geezers of rock in the Hair Bands Hall of Shame. Yeah, I?m talking about you, Mötley Crüe.) And during this audio assault, probably because I?m skipping songs like crazy, I have what seems like an excruciating wait between songs. Well, I tell ya, that's the last straw.
Thank goodness there's Slacker, a just-released iPhone app for internet radio. I feel like a high school girl grappling with a jerky boyfriend ? that is, until she meets his sexier big brother.
What I like: Music library with millions of songs, more than 100 stations or genres (and better yet, sub-genres) with 'starter? playlists that learns your likes, the ability to ban either a song or an artist, coverflow integration for jumping to or previewing the next song, fairly swift song play, expert selections (by real live, walking/talking humans) that are almost scarily good, staff recommendations, minor wait between songs (provided there's a good Wifi, 3G or even Edge connection), artists? bio and album info, and a slick web interface that's totally unnecessary, since the app is so simple to use. And best yet, Slacker delivers very decent audio quality for a free service.
Still on the wish list: Song caching, background play (this is likely due to the OS, though, not the app), unlimited skips (the pro version removes the mandatory ad that plays after 6 skips per station, per hour), equalizer, and what's probably the top annoying thing on the list: You can't resume where you left off when the app gets shut down. That means if you?re rocking out to the Killers when someone calls, Slacker will nix it for the following tune on the list when you come back. It's also a little weird that tapping the ?Buy on iTunes? button ? which is a great feature, given iTunes new DRM-free model ? launches Safari, which then redirects to iTunes. Kind of bizarre.
Though users of the Slacker G2 (mobile internet radio device, not the much-awaited cell phone) will like that their user accounts work on the iPhone, they will hate having spent a couple hundred bucks on it when the iPhone app does so many of the same things. (Slacker even has a BlackBerry app for most devices with OS 4.3 or higher, minus the Storm.)
So overall, I dig Slacker. Sure, it's a v1, so the program's not perfect (it crashes once in a while, and if all you've got is Edge, waiting for music to begin isn't always super speedy). But, after a couple of hours playing with it, this app still beats the pants off rivals Pandora and Last.fm.