Best App for Personalized Radio
Radio Your Way: Tap "Start a New Station" to play music similar to any artist or category. The "My Library" station plays a mix of songs you've heard in the past; you can build up your playlist by allowing Last.fm to eavesdrop on music you play in iTunes at home or work, so that the app can stream music based on your everyday listening habits. The "Recommended" station plays new (to you) music based on your listening history.
Band Radio: Last.fm doesn't play requests for specific songs or albums. Instead, you give Last.fm a band name or music category (a "tag"), and it plays music to fit the genre. The Rolling Stones station, for example, plays music by the Stones but also The Kinks, Hendrix, and The Doors. Tap the heart to love a song, or ban it to tell the app not to play the song again. An "on tour" banner indicates upcoming concerts; tap the banner for dates.
Backstage Pass: Find out more about the current artist by tapping the "i" button on the song screen. The screen flips to show a detailed bio of the band, with stats of the group's popularity among Last.fm listeners. Tap the dock icons to browse similar artists or see the tags others have used to describe the band. Select a related artist or tag to fire up a new station—a great way to explore undiscovered music.
Concert Dates: The Events screen shows a band's upcoming concert dates. Tap an event to see its details, map the venue, or indicate that you plan to attend. When you say you're going to a concert, the app adds the event to your profile, available in the app's Profile screen or at last.fm. If you give the website your location, the site additionally offers a calendar of area concerts with bands matching your tastes.
Version reviewed: 2.0.1
Last.fm is what radio should be: It's free, plays only the music you're in the mood for (no ads), surfaces new music to match your taste, and offers a slew of info about any band when you care to know more. Name a band, and the app plays music from that band and others like it. Tell it a music genre, and it plays music to fit. The more you listen, the more Last.fm knows your likes and dislikes, offering recommendations to match.
Static for iPhone Radio
Internet radio gives instant access to millions of songs (amazing) but also a few headaches (frustrating). Unlike the built-in iPod app, radio apps stop playing when you switch away, and constant network usage drains your battery in a hurry, too. And you might've heard: The recording industry is just a bit touchy about digital music. Stern licensing restrictions straitjacket online services and create awkward limits on listeners. Slacker and Pandora limit how often you can skip songs, and none of the services can play more than a few songs per hour by the same artist (a rule that applies to radio stations, too). The rules affect not only how you listen to music but where: Slacker and Pandora work only in the US (oops, sorry Canada); Last.fm meanwhile plays in over 200 countries, but requires a $3/month subscription outside the US, UK, or Germany.
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