November 26, 2014

App Review: Pandora for Android

mytouch_widget_400Pandora, the popular ad-supported music streaming service, has now been available for the Android platform for over two weeks. In this review I’ll discuss some highlights and opportunities for improvement which we will hopefully see in future versions to come (reviewing version 1.0.0).

Like other streaming music applications available for Android, the Pandora application also includes a widget which can be placed on the home screen, allowing you to run the application in the background. The widget controls (Like, Dislike, Play/Pause, Skip) are responsive to touch, although tapping on the widget to bring up the actual Pandora app may take a few tries. On 3G networks, there can be up to a five second delay when skipping songs and sometimes an additional one or two more seconds for the album view to load after the song has begun to play. On 2G, I experienced up to ten seconds for the song to load and up to 20 for the album art to load (please note, these readings represent the maximum and do not necessarily reflect typical load times). When allowing the song to play through, the proceeding track loads up much faster than if you were to skip to the next track yourself.

If you’re an existing Pandora user, after logging in you will see a list of your current stations as well as the QuickMix option. For new Pandora users, QuickMix merges artists and genres which would normally fall into separate stations, giving the user an easier way to listen to a more diverse collection of music in one station. When you begin playing music, hitting the “Menu” key brings up options to Bookmark the song or artist, Buy, Share, Preferences, and Quit the application. Contrary to what you may think, “Bookmarking” a song or artist does not save a link or provide on-demand access to the song or artist, it is purely to develop your profile on the Pandora website. Selecting “Buy” launches the built-in Amazon MP3 application. Quite redundantly, one must perform an additional search from within the Amazon application to find the artist, album, or song. “Share” allows you to send a link to your station to a friend via email. Lastly, “Preferences” gives you two options, “Audio Quality” and “Sign Out”. Please note the load times listed above were tested under the High Audio Quality setting.

The advertisements only appear in the actual Pandora application, not the widget, and can be closed. However, another ad will pop up at the beginning of the next song. These ads are minimal in size, unobtrusive, and again can be avoided altogether by using the widget.

In this author’s opinion, Pandora represents the best of what the current internet streaming music model has to offer in the US. However, competition is brewing as the next generation of streaming music services, such as Europe’s Spotify, are offering on-demand music streaming. Pandora may have to quickly adapt to compete with on-demand streaming technology.

I’d like to see future updates integrate scrobbling to Facebook, MySpace, Last.fm, and other social networks. The “Thumb Up/Down” function seems to have little effect on reducing or increasing the frequency of artists appearing in your station. Future updates should include more customization and adaptation based on the user’s musical preferences. At times, Pandora seemed to take up enough of the system’s resources to the point that typing a text message was extremely lagged. Given the quality of this initial version, I am confident the issues I experienced will be addressed in future updates as Pandora continues to be a competitor in the evolving world of internet streaming radio.



  • http://schwiz.net schwiz

    Anyone else have the problem of no music (or anything) playing for about 30 seconds and if you press the skip button you get a toast that says something like 'you can not skip ads' I wouldn't mind not skipping adds if I could actually hear them! Seems to only happen when I strictly use the widget. If the pandora app had the polish of tune-wiki we would be in business.

  • http://twitter.com/shadewind @shadewind

    As the author says, Pandora seems a little useless when you compare it to Spotify (which we have here in Europe) which lets you listen to whatever song you want, whenever and wherever. The radio functionality might not be as good though.

  • DMAGIC448

    I’ve noticed when using Pandora in conjunction with my stereo bluetooth devices that at times the built in audio player will take control of the audio processor and stop Pandora from playing. After pressing the Quit button 4 or 5 times it will finally exit the application but after it does that, tapping the widget will no longer allow you to open the player, it must be done from the icon.

  • Todd

    Slacker.com is very similar to Pandora, and arguably better. I haven't used it much myself, but you can create your own stations or listen to ones programmed by experts. Plus you can request that your stations play more popular tunes, or more rare tracks. They already have an app for iPhone. Hopefully they'll make one for Android, too!

  • amy

    Pandora is way better than Slacker, which kills your battery life. I think the thumbs up/down really does a good job adjusting my music selection, and I find that if I thumbs down a song, not only does it skip to the next song but it rarely (if ever) plays that song again.

  • Deusivnictus

    Technically once you Thumbs Down a song it's not supposed to play it all (at least not on that station) and from my experience it does. I've been using Pandora on my computer for a long time and it's never played something again once I've Thumbs downed (?) it on that station. But for example if I have a rock and a techno station, and Prodigy's Smack my bitch shows up on the Rock station I will give it a Thumbs up (since it's a heavier more rock style techno), but then it uses that and sends me Prodigy's One Love. I thumbs down and it never shows up on my rock station again, but will still show up on my Techno station.

  • greg

    anyone have problems with unwanted skipping songs? it seems that on my verizon droid eris if i disturb the phone by picking it up or moving it, the pandora app will skip the song. it doesn't happen every time but it happens frequently enough to be quite annoying. i couldn't find anything about pandora being tied into the orientation of my phone (it does have an internal g-sensor) and i'm at a loss as to why this occurs. also, if i shake my phone it ALWAYS tries to either skip the song or play/pause the song. very odd…

  • Mike

    When I bring up Pandora on my Droid, it takes me to the last song. How do I bring up the normal menu?

  • Danielle

    Please help! I love the Pandora concept, but every song skips and freezes so much on my motorola cliq that I can’t enjoy it. Any tips? WIFI?

  • Cool Michael

    when you download the one on the computer it will want to download the serch bar. it will crash your computer dont download it