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Pandora 4 for iPhone: Music discovery on steroids

30 October 2012 1,623 views No Comment

Pandora is the most-popular (57 million monthly users) and, in my humble opinion, the best internet radio service. With Pandora 4, it's now even better…

For whatever reason, the new features in Pandora 4 seem to be exclusive to iPhone and iPod touch even though this is a universal app. Perhaps the goodness will come to Apple’s growing family of tablets, but in the meantime there is a lot to like in Pandora 4.

Lately, Pandora has been in the news for the wrong reason — Apple is purportedly in discussions with the record labels to launch an iTunes-flavored streaming music service of its own. The rumor was enough to send Pandora shares tumbling down, tripping breakers and suspending trade.

All of that drama aside, Pandora is still far and away the most-popular (57 million monthly users) and, in my humble opinion, the best internet radio service. With the release of Pandora 4.0 (free), it has gotten a good bit better:

• Share your latest discoveries with friends on Pandora, Facebook, and Twitter
• Discover new music by following others on the Music Feed
• Re-discover your favorite music on your profile page
• Explore the artists and music you love directly on your device
• Full lyrics for the songs we play
• Artist biographies and discographies
• Detailed track features from the Music Genome Project
• Find even more music you’ll love by adding variety to your stations
• Enjoy constantly updated and expertly curated genre stations
• Timer added to the track progress indicator – drag the player controls up to reveal the timer
• Support for the taller iPhone 5 screen
• Support for new BMW vehicles with the “BMW Apps” option, see bmwusa.com/apps for more details
• Numerous stability and performance enhancements

Yes, that’s very nice, but what does it all mean? Whereas sharing is a good thing™, and there’s a lot of that in this rewrite of the app, the real import of Pandora 4 is the ability to dig deep into artist profiles and follow your fancy — start tapping album names, related artists, etc. and you will discover new tracks, artists, stations, etc. to listen to.

Back into the groove

Best of all, whence you find something intriguing, just look for the “Sample” button (image above) and tap it — boom, you get short 30-second taste of the song. Best of all, when the sample finishes playing or you stop it, Pandora 4 shoots you right back into the track you were listening to before curiosity got the better of you — pretty smooth.

“Our motivation for doing this was to connect people with the music they’re discovering in a fundamental way,” says Tom Conrad, Pandora’s chief technology officer and executive vice president of product, via ABC News.

Also smooth is the fact that all of this interaction takes place within the app.

It’s compelling and fun. Further, you can instantly sign up for Pandora One 24-hour free trial, which gets rid of the commercials and boosts the audio quality.

I’m really liking Pandora 4 and very much looking forward enjoying the new features in the iPad version of the app…

What’s your take?

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