When I bought my SUV several years back it came with a built-in XM radio. I’ve subscribed ever since. Recently I had an iPod/iPhone hook-up installed and have since been either listening to my iPod or to Pandora on my iPhone.
Pandora for iOS 4 is even better. Support for multitasking is now built in. That means you can listen to Pandora while doing other things on your iPhone, like reading email, checking FaceBook or using Safari.
Now, unless you think this article is about the iPhone again, rest assured, it’s not, well not really. This is about Pandora, which happens to run beautifully on the iPhone, iPad, as well as other phones, Blu-Ray players, TV’s, and of course any Internet connected computer.
If you’re not yet familiar with Pandora, let me tell you it’s music variety at it’s best. Pandora, now only a couple years old, has over 50 million listener accounts! So I figure they’ve got to be doing something right.
It works like this, I can either choose from preset stations that the Pandora folks have setup or I can create my own. The beauty of Pandora lies in being able to create your own stations. So I start off by putting in an artist whose music I want to listen to, say The Cure. Pandora then begins playing a song from The Cure and my station is created.
After The Cure song ends, Pandora will automatically choose a similar artist, like The Smiths, Depeche Mode, or New Order. While I’m listening, let’s say a song plays that I don’t like. I can simply give it a “thumbs down”. The rejected song ends immediately and Pandora goes onto the next song. The rejected song won’t ever play again on my new station. That’s how Pandora learns what you like and don’t like. If I like a song I give it a “thumbs up”, then more songs by that artist will play.
Once my station is created, I can edit the artists and songs that are used to “seed” the station. That way the station will more accurately reflect my listening preferences. Ultimately I get the variety and commercial free features of satellite radio but I can tune my stations to my taste rather than having to suffer through songs I don’t like.
Pandora is free, but also has a paid version called Pandora One. For the price of three months of XM you get a year of Pandora One which includes better sound quality than the free version, no commercials, and a cool desktop application so you don’t have to keep your browser open.
For those who like to share you can even hook Pandora into your Twitter or Facebook account. That way all your friends can see that you really do listen to hair bands and their campy rock ballads. Who knows, you might discover that your friends are secret hair band rockers too. Then you can share your masterly crafted station with them so you all can throw up the devil horns and bang your once follicly adorned heads together, or you can selfishly keep it yourself.
Pandora hasn’t yet replaced XM in my car, it’s close though. I like XM for things like news, talk, and comedy. If you don’t have satellite radio however, Pandora will certainly replace your FM radio. What’s nice is that you can listen to Pandora anywhere, from your car you can go to the gym, into your house and back to your computer all with the same stations, your stations.