Songza, our Editors’ Choice pick among free streaming music sites, brings its playlist-based service to Apple’s smartphone. The free, ad-supported iPhone app presents music as themed playlists that you can discover by searching for artists, rifling through genres, or using the extremely cool Music Concierge, which serves up tunes based on your mood, time of day, and popular genres. The app offers a simple and unique way to discover artists you may not have known existed, but it lacks a vital feature found in the browser-based Songza: playlist creation and editing. Songza’s iPhone app is a solid offering that brings an interesting feature set to the table, but a few niggles keep it from besting Slacker Radio for iPhone.
The Songza Experience
You begin by either signing into Songza using your Facebook credentials or by creating/signing in with dedicated Songza credentials. This brings you to the Songza Music Concierge, which prompts you to select music based on your mood time and time of day. Songza displayed the time of day (Tuesday afternoon), and I selected the “Boosting Your Energy.” Songza then asked me to pick a genre from its “Party Rap Throwbacks,” “Raw & Rowdy Rock,” “Powerful Funk & Soul,” “At a ’90s School Dance,” “Essential Throwback Party Hits,” and “Rambunctious Indie Rock” selections.
After selecting “Essential Throwback Party Hits,” I then chose “Disco Inferno” playlist, which served up Lipps, Inc.’s “Funkytown,” Michael Jackson’s “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough,” and other up-tempo ’70s songs. I was very pleased with the mix that bounced to my ears—none of the songs felt out of place.
Tracks within playlists have the expected album art, artist, song, and album titles, but Songza also displays the playlist creator’s username and the number of songs within the collection (“The Grunge Era” contains 71 songs). You can also share playlists using Facebook, Tweet, and email. Unfortunately, Songza lacks song lyrics and an option that would let users stream complete albums (it’s all about the playlists). Songza also lets listeners skip a handful of songs per hour—typical for a free streaming music services—but it lacks a premium plan that would remove the visual ads and skip limitations.
A toolbar housing several categories resides to the left of the main content area. It features Popular (both trending and all-time hot songs), My Playlists (recently played playlists and favorites), Explore (which lets you search for songs by genre, mood, culture, and more), Search, and Settings. There’s also a section that displays “Similar Playlists,” song collections that are similar to what you’re playing. Songza’s recommendations are excellent; it displayed “Disco Sweat” and “New York Dance Floor Classic” while I listened to the Disco Inferno playlist.
Songza features an improved artist search that displays all the curated playlists featuring the performer. Even better, when you fire up one of those playlists, the first song that’s played will be from the artist you searched for, so you don’t have to wait to hear your favorite musician perform.
The more intriguing feature is Songza’s HQ Audio feature, which is powered by Audyssey. The audio-enhancing software is designed to improve headphone sound quality without increasing the streaming bit rate (and, by extension, your data plan usage). Here’s how it works: you plug a pair of headphones into your iPhone and Audyssey will prompt you to select an associated audio profile (the software supports over 200 headphone models). Songza then installs an audio profile—an audio profile that improves the listening experience a bit. The streaming tunes that were delivered to my Skullcandy Hesh headphones sounded a bit fuller with Audyssey activated than when I used unsupported cans. If you own a pair of headphones that aren’t currently supported by Audyssey, click the “Can’t find your headphones?” link to fill out a request form. Audyssey may support the model in the future.
Songza also makes firing up a playlists easier than ever before. Simply tap and hold a category and Songza streams a playlist. If you like to be a bit more active in selecting music, shaking the iPhone (while you’re at the Concierge screen) lets you tell Songza what type of mood you’re in so that it can find the appropriate music to play.
A Major Gripe
The Songza iPhone app, despite carrying over many of the browser-based version’s capabilities, has one glaring flaw: It doesn’t let users create or edit playlists. That’s one of the Web version’s more attractive features—especially if you make a playlist editable by the entire Songza community, which results in intriguing mixes—so it’s a disappointment not to see it here as well. Songza states that playlist creation and editing is a feature that will be a Web-exclusive feature for the foreseeable future.
Singing the Songza
Songza for iPhone may lack the ability to create and edit playlists, but it’s still an excellent streaming music app. Music discovery is effortless, and there are many entertaining playlists, too. Slacker for iPhone remains the top mobile streaming music app as it’s a more comprehensive streaming audio service that carries lifestyle content and live ESPN. But if you’re looking to sample interesting mixes, Songza for iPhone is worth a download.
|OS Compatibility||Windows Vista, Windows XP, Linux, Mac OS, Windows 7|
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc