Online music streaming has quickly become a staple in many people's online experience. It is certainly a regular occurrence for my co-workers to walk past my office and find me with headphones plugged into the computer rocking out to my new favorite online music service, Slacker Radio. Slacker Radio has the same premise (and some very similar functionality) as the popular Pandora service, but offers a much cleaner user interface and, in my opinion, a much better Android experience.
I am a stickler for a pleasing user interface. In this area, Slacker definitely does not disappoint. For example, each station you play features album artwork for the current song, the next song in the queue, and minimalist buttons at the bottom of the screen. Slacker looks like it was built for the mobile platform, and it delivers. Most people prefer function over looks in a music player, and Slacker does well here also. The application allows you to choose from one of 100 preset stations or to create a station of your own by typing in a favorite artist. Slacker will then create a station of similar-sounding musicians to enjoy. Additionally, a useful widget gives easy access to basic necessities such as play/pause, skipping songs, and blocking songs.
Similar to most online streaming music sites, Slacker comes in two main flavors: a free version which is ad-supported and allows you to skip a limited number of songs per hour, and a premium version which offers no ads, unlimited song skipping, and station caching. The slacker application (currently in version 2.0.65) itself is free, and can be downloaded from the Android Market.
Subscription pricing and more information on Slacker Radio can be found at www.slacker.com.
- Overall a very nice user interface
- Ability to create stations based on your music taste
- Widget with all the basic functions
- In my opinion, it provides a better user experience on the Android platform.
- Over 100 preset stations for those indecisive days
- The developers at Slacker are constantly updating the app.
- Because Slacker is newer than Pandora, they have a smaller song base to draw from. As the application gets more popular, it should rival Pandora in this regard. Actually Slacker has about 4x the music catalog of Pandora. This is because they work with the labels and they provide fresh content.
- Free version is ad-supported, and only allows 6 song skips per hour per station.
As someone who has been unimpressed with the direction Pandora is going, Slacker Radio has offered a refreshing new way to experience online music. I strongly encourage anyone who listens to streaming music to try out Slacker for a few days/weeks, and decide for yourself whether Slacker or Pandora is better for you. Me? I spent a good deal of time with both Slacker and Pandora, and I am now a happy Slacker Radio Plus subscriber.