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App Review: Rdio Gets an Update, Better Player

image from cdn.venturebeat.com Rdio has released an update to their mobile app. The main additions consist of a new home screen, various discovery tools and song charts, better search, and a persistent music player. Overall, the app is very clean and nicely put together. Navigation is smooth. There's no odd hang ups. The recommended section is great.

Here's an Overview:

Pros:

  1. Fast Search. In other music apps, search is segmented into songs, artists, and albums. Rdio has created a single purpose engine that digs up exactly what I'm looking for. Like Google, the search is also instant.
  2. Recommend. On the home screen, there's a brand-new and great recommended section. Rdio tracks a user's listening activity and makes suggestions based on their recent music sessions.
  3. History. The hard thing about having everything at your fingertips can be that a user forgets what they listened to last. It's in a playlist somewhere, but which one? Rdio solves this by keeping an extensive session history.
  4. Player. With the update came a persistent music player. What this means is that on every screen the player rests at the bottom. There's no switching between menus and the player; it's always one click away.
  5. Resume. Even when a user turns off their iPod Touch and enters Rdio fresh, the last thing they listened to is still sitting the in the player. This makes it really easy to keep jamming to the last song you were on.

Cons:

  1. Amateur Playlists. In the top playlist section, there were a few of great professionally curated playlists, but the rest were user generated. Sorry guys, but "Favs 1" and "Slaps" – all playlist titles – mean nothing to me.
  2. Ablums Not Singles. In both the recommended and heavy rotation directories, only albums are displayed. When discovering music, sifting through albums asks too much of the user and presents impersonal choices. Pick a song you'll know I'll like, but not twelve at once.
  3. Top Songs. The top songs section of the site is dominated by the same artists. There's no way to segment the choices or dig deeper.
  4. Artist Radio. A great feature of Rdio is their artist radio feature, but for some reason they decide to keep the radio feature of their app hidden within artist pages. A top stations icon should be on the main screen.
  5. Contextual Choice. Only within the recommended section does a user get any idea how good any choice may be. Otherwise, they're flying blind. Can the new release section get ratings of some kind? Help me find it.

Final Thoughts:

In the beta app, lockups were common. I had to restart my iPod several times. This is expected, but such glitches should be polished out in the final version.

I'm quite pleased with the app and it's functionality, but worry that there's no deeper controls. What you see is what you get. There were more positives to list than negatives, but for simplicity purposes, I stuck to 5. It's great that users can rearrange the icons on the homepage to their liking. I would like to see more icons to choose from – that way, a user can truly customize their homepage.

Lastly, I would be interested in more staff curated playlists. The one I listened to at first was great – a staff picks list – but I was sad to find there wasn't more.


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