Slacker

By | Sunday, August 15, 2010 at 11:22 pm

My latest obsession on the iPod is Slacker Radio (often used when I’m playing Words With Friends). I’ve tried a lot of different radio apps on the iPod. Several of them I liked, but a big feature that I found with Slacker that kept me using it is it’s station caching. Since I use the Touch and not the iPhone, Im not always connected to a network. This alone eliminates the functionality of most radio apps, but with Slacker’s station caching, all I have to do is choose a cached station in Slacker and I can play everything just as if I were connected to a network. It can take several minutes to cache a station, but that’s expecte. From the details I’ve read, Slacker will cache 100 songs for a station initially, and gradually increase the cache as you listen to the station and refresh the cache. They do some nice shuffling in the background apparently, because I can listen to a station over and over and it seems I always hear songs I haven’t heard before, yet I still sometimes hear replays, but most of the time it’s only for songs I’ve “hearted”, which you do when you hear a favorite you like. When you refresh your cached stations (you have to do them all at once, you can’t pick and choose which ones to cache and any given time) it seems to take longest to re-cache stations you’ve listened to since you last cached, so I would guess it’s dumping the songs you’ve banned, adding more new songs, and syncing your listening preferences with the Slacker servers. Every time I visit the website on my PC it shows me everything I’ve listen to, so it certainly “remembers” everything. Other features include many curated stations from Slacker, including a couple of very good Comedy channels (one Explicit, one ‘clean’), search features to find exactly the artists or songs you want to hear, the ability to build your own custom stations, bios, lyrics, and reviews of the songs and artists as you play them, large thumbnail of the current song playing (WHOOHOO! Love it!) and much more. A few of these features only work in “Slacker Plus”, the subscription service, but that’s expected. Since the service is only $4.99 a month (or $3.99 a month if you pay yearly), it’s well worth the price for the features you get, in my opinion. There is also an web version of Slacker, which is actually much easier to use for building custom stations than the iPod is, and fortunately every station and favorite you save immediately appears on both your PC and your iPod, since it saves to your Slacker account itself. They also list many stand-alone digital radio devices that now support Slacker, which is a good indication of their stability as a company. Overall, I highly recommend Slacker as a music streaming service, it ROCKS. Here’s some screenshots of it from my iPod, and here’s the Slacker website