Anyone who hasn’t been residing under a large rock in the middle of the Gobi Desert can see that technology has been shifting more and more in a mobile direction. As a result of this, storage (media and otherwise) has been taking a different direction than that of several years ago, in that while most storage is still physically stored on devices, it’s becoming more and more common to see storage and media available via servers. This storage has become commonly referred to as “the cloud,” which has become a sort of geek catch phrase that I’m sure many non-techie people have puzzled over. Well, TalkAndroid is here to help you understand this technology and, whats more, incorporate it into your life.
One area where cloud-based technology has been progressing is music. Several apps offering this type of service are available in the Market and we’ll be covering three of the most popular. Yesterday, we covered MOG and today we’ll be reviewing Rdio. How will it fair? Read on to find out!
Rdio’s UI is one of zen-like simplicity. There are no bold colors or stark contrasts; elements are done in white and shades of grey with light blue accents. Navigation is made extremely simple with the main focuses of the app broken down into three tabs: Dashboard, Collection, and Playlists. The Dashboard is the homepage and has a page selector at the top that allows you to choose between pages for Recent Activity, Heavy Rotation, Your Queue, and Your History. Heavy Rotation is always the default start page, and this brings up the top twelve albums that fellow Rdio users have been listening to. Recent Activity brings up a list of the most recent playlist creations and playlist changes that have been made by other users, and Your Queue and Your History, as you might expect, bring up exactly what they say they do.
The second tab is the Collection tab, wherein any songs or albums that you have chosen to your cloud-based music collection reside. Adding to this collection is as simple as performing a search, long pressing on an item, and selecting Add to Collection. You may notice that some of the artists listed in my collection have an orange symbol next to them. This brings me to another option in the long-press menu, Add to Mobile. What this does is download the song or album to your phone’s microSD card for listening when you don’t have access to a network or for just faster queue times. Keep in mind, that, like MOG, this does not give you the ability to “own” the music. You need the Rdio app to play it, along with your $9.99 membership.
Moving onto the third tab, we have our Playlists. One of the nice features of Rdio is the ability to create and edit playlists on the fly, something that MOG lacks. What’s better is that you can have any of the playlists sync to your phone by long pressing it and selecting sync to mobile. After choosing to sync a playlist, any songs added to that playlist are synced automatically as well. Along with your own personal playlists, you can subscribe to other Rdio users’ playlists as well. Anytime they make edits to their playlists, it’s reflected in your own list.
Subscribed playlists are found at the bottom of the playlist page, like so, with the user’s name displayed as well. This playlist sharing brings a nice social aspect to Rdio, and encourages you to seek out users that may have playlists similar to yours.
Rdio’s search function is simple but works. You can search by artist, album, or song. One nitpick I do have, is the app does not try to match what you’re typing like MOG does. Not a huge problem unless you only have a general idea of an artist name or spelling.
Rdio’s settings page is rather spartan but does offer some useful options, like background syncing networks and your sync interval. High quality tracks can be completely disabled, wi-fi only, or on all of the time. Handy feature, but I would have liked to have seen a 4G based option as well.
Streaming-wise, Rdio performed like a champ. There was very little stutter and I did not experience the song skipping problem that I had with MOG. Songs that were saved to the phone loaded instantly, which definitely leads me to encourage mobile syncing of albums or playlists that you listen to frequently.
I do have some issues with the app. Rdio’s website for the computer offers you robust options that really take advantage of the social aspect of their network. This is hardly present in their Android app at all. I would have liked some options for finding users based on what I’m listening to or searching for user playlists. Twitter and/or Facebook posting of songs and playlists would also have been nice. I mention this only because Rdio seems to be social focused. My other problem with Rdio is its lack of browsing capability. You can search by titles and artist names, but general browsing is not possible. At the very least, I would like to see a New Releases list somewhere.
In all, despite its lack of some features, I have to highly recommend Rdio due to its stability and excellent network performance. I rarely experienced any issues and this led to a very enjoyable listening experience, which, in the end, is really what an music app should do. Tomorrow we have our final contender in Rhapsody, the original music cloud guru. How will this established giant do against MOG and Rdio? Tune in and find out!