Pandora Radio, one of the most recognized names in the streaming music service space, brings its large library and Music Genome Project-powered song recommendation engine to the iPad . The free, ad-supported Pandora Radio (also available as a $36 per year, ad-free Pandora One premium service) competes with other streaming music players including the likes of Slacker Radio and Spotify to win over your ear, but manages to fall short of their class-leading standards by missing numerous features.
The (Very Basics)
Pandora Radio for iPad has an incredibly basic interface. That’s not just in terms of the simple four-pane interface, but the visual design as well. The app has the blandest user interface of all streaming iPad music apps; in fact, it is easy to mistake it for the iPad’s settings menu at a quick glance. Appearance isn’t everything, but it does count for something and that’s where Slacker, Songza, and others succeed.
I have a small gripe that may not be of consequence to the iPad music listening public—Pandora lacks dedicated volume controls. Considering the extra real estate that the iPad affords, it’s surprising not to see volume icons/sliders to manipulate sound. I recently damaged my tablet’s physical volume keys, so it was quite annoying to dig into the iPad’s settings when I wanted to raise or lower the sounds.
The Pandora for iPad Experience
That said, music is the heart of Pandora for iPad. You start by logging in with your Pandora credentials or creating a new username and password from scratch. You then key a song, artist, or composer name into the search box to create a station based around the selection. Keying in “Thriller” created a station full of ’70s and ’80s hits that featured the likes of “Stayin’ Alive” and “Eye of the Tiger.” Deee-Lite’s “Groove is in the Heart” house/dance track seemed out of place in the mix. That’s a small matter as Pandora gives you the tools to customize the experience. You can up-vote and down-vote sounds that you love or hate, which customizes the audio delivered to your headphones. As a song plays, Pandora for iPad displays an artist biography, but there’s no option to view lyrics—a major downer. It also lacks individual album reviews. Slacker for iPad has both of these features. You can, however, bookmark individual tracks and artists. There is a drawback associated with it—there’s no visual indication that the bookmark was added successfully.
Pandora streamed crisp over my home and office network connections. Unless you’re a true audiophile, Pandora’s sound quality should satisfy, especially when the audio is pumped through the iPad or desktop speaker. Music is interspersed with the occasional audio (there are isual display ads as well). Upgrading to a premium account removes the ads. You can’t rewind or repeat songs, but you can skip six tracks per hour per station (for up to a dozen total skips per day across all stations)
Upgrading to the $36 per year Pandora One (it’s cheaper than Slacker Radio’s $47.88 Slacker Radio Plus premium edition) removes the daily skip limit, but you’re still limited to six skips per hour, though.
Should You Tune Into Pandora for iPad?
If you already subscribe to Pandora One on the desktop, downloading this free app is a no-brainer. Others who demand more flexibility should check out its rivals—Slacker Radio and Spotify—which have lyrics, on-demand song playback, and less skip restrictions.
More Music Services & Players Reviews:
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc