I used Slacker Radio for the first time today, and I was impressed. Slacker Radio is a free custom internet radio app developed by Slacker, Inc. that provides some extra perks that its main competitor, Pandora, does not.
Slacker Radio offers the same basic features as Pandora. You type in the name of a band or artist, and Slacker Radio creates a custom radio station for you that streams songs from that artist and similar artists. Slacker Radio boasts a library with millions of songs from thousands of artists. One of my favorite indie bands, The Rescues, was even in the library.
Like Pandora, you can purchase the music that you are listening to on Slacker Radio directly from iTunes, view album art, prevent your iPhone from sleeping and save songs you like in your favorites. Both apps stream smoothly on WiFi or 3G.
To test Slacker Radio out, I searched for one of my favorite bands, St. Germain. Slacker Radio created a fabulous play list for me featuring St. Germain and similar artists, some that I already knew such as Thievery Corporation, and others that were new to me like Tom Middleton.
So what does Slacker Radio have that Pandora does not? The main feature is over 100 pre-made radio stations like Alternative Chill, Outlaw Country, Dysfunctional Holiday and Party Rock. Slacker Radio also lets you “fine tune” each station by allowing you to narrow music selections with limiters such as popularity and year. I also found Slacker Radio was much more intuitive when it came to navigation.
Most apps have some downsides, and Slacker Radio is no exception. First, the ads: every six songs or so, you have to listen to an audio commercial on Slacker Radio. Pandora has ads, but the ads are in banner form and you can close them when they pop up. Second, Slacker Radio will only let you skip six songs per hour. Both of these annoyances can be avoided by signing up for Slacker Radio Plus which costs $3.99 per month. Lyrics are also only available with Slacker Radio Plus.
Apps like Slacker Radio give a whole new meaning to the word “radio.” Slacker Radio is a major player and essentially two apps in one: you can stream a huge variety of music by genre or hone in on your favorites. You should try Slacker Radio, even if you are a Pandora lover.