Slacker Radio (Free) by Slacker, Inc. may be a relatively new iPad native app, but iPhone users have had access to the online radio and music discovery service for a while now.
It’s an alternative (a better one), to App Store darling Pandora. If you have an iPad, it’s time to make a change. Slacker Radio’s app is a must-have for music lovers.
Slacker’s bright shiny new iPad version is eye candy. It presents your music, in either orientation, using the iPad’s brilliant display and multi-touch interface to maximum advantage (screenshots are from an iPad 2).
In the “Now Playing” area (you just pick a station and start listening) you have a neat cover flow display, which, depending on your subscription level (most people use this service for free) shows previous and upcoming track info.
You also get instant in-app access to artist bios, album information and lyrics, when allowed by the publisher.
You can sit back and play over 100 pre-programmed stations in popular genres like rock, alternative, pop, hip-hop, indie, and country music.
But Slacker is not providing a passive music listening experience. It's all about personal customization which it provides in abundance.
If Slacker Radio online can do it, this app can too, but in a way that will make you want to pop your iPad into a sleek speaker dock and start rocking.
The GUI is rich and intuitive; the app is a treat and not just to for your ears. But, audiophiles report that if you listen with high-end headphones, Slacker's sound quality is the best in class.
Here’s a complete tour of the iPad version:
Slacker has preset channels in popular genres, including artist spotlights, and lots of ways to make your listening experience all your own, for free.
There is access to a DJ for some stations, and news updates provided by ABC News. You get a dedicated ABC News channel if you buy the entry-level “plus” subscription plan. It's a few dollars more, annually, than Pandora’s, at $3.99/month, but includes unlimited skips, the 10 million song catalog etc. There's also the new “premium” option that is feature-packed at a cost of $9.99 a month.
Slacker Radio, like their competitors in this field, know the bulk of their listeners aren’t going to pony up any cash. Therefore Slacker is available at no charge; you can still create custom stations (playlist creation, on-demand songs, and complete album playback are reserved for premium-members) and you can skip six songs per hour. That’s a huge plus, not offered by Pandora.
For free, you don’t get the bells and whistles, but you also don’t get slapped with a 40-hour per month listening cap.
Slacker is not just an online radio programmer. Their service, and their apps, are not just about listening. Slacker is all about music discovery.
Where does someone with long-established tastes begin looking for new music that won’t offend? Easy! Just enter the name of a favorite band, and you’re off. By looking at the suggested artists, it’s easy to rediscover names long forgotten.
Slacker offers an amazing amount of configurability. You can fine tune most stations which is my favorite feature.
When listening to The Beatles I want to go fringe, I never need to hear Yesterday again, thanks. But, I love fining old B-sides and obscure cuts from, say, a George Harrison solo album. When it comes to the Black Eyed Peas and Coldplay, however, I want catchy hits.
What balance your stations strike is up to you. Pick new songs, or aim for older tracks, add more new artist discovery, or limit yourself to mostly your favorites. Slacker let’s you decide what you listen to.
The iPad version of the Slacker app is fantastic. The free service is the best in class, with a huge catalog of songs and limited free skips.
The “plus” service gives you unlimited skips, caching for offline listening, optional news and lyrics.
The “premium” service can replace your iTunes app and collection, as well as your cloud service. It gives on-demand playback of their catalog of songs, lets you create playlists as you would in iTunes, and complete access to albums played as they were meant to be heard, with the tracks in order.
No matter how you get your Slacker, it's a must have app for music lovers.
Can’t decide if you want to pay or not? Here’s a chance to try before you buy, and we’re not talking about a free month of “plus” service. If you want to win Slacker Radio’s premium service for a full year simply tweet this article or leave a relevant comment on what you think of Slacker’s service (try it now for free).
That’s $120 worth of on-demand music for a year, just for reading appadvice.com and sharing your thoughts.
I will pick two lucky winners, one from the Twitterverse, one from the comments (you can enter once for each method, but can only win one subscription) and set you up with the best music discovery and online radio on the App Store and the web.
Contest Closes Monday, June 9, 2011, 9:00 p.m. PDT. Good Luck!