Up until now, there have been two types of music services to choose from (aside from local media, of course) – streaming radio like Pandora or Slacker, or personal content streaming with services like Google Music or Amazon Cloud Player. mSpot is looking to change the game, however, by combining the two.
The updated mSpot Music app really is a great idea – it combines your personal music collection with streaming music discovery radio. This is the type of service that I have wanted for quite some time now, because while I love to listen to my own music collection, I’m always looking for new artists to check out. Of course, with any new service such as this, implementation is key. Join me for a quick look for this new service to see how well it actually works.
First off, you need to an mSpot account to take advantage of the new services, so head over the mSpot.com and register for one. Nothing has changed in the area of cloud storage – you can still get 5GB for free, but if you need more storage space, you can bump it up to 40GB for $3.99 per month.
Finished with that? Great, now you can now start uploading your tunes. One very nice feature of mSpot is the option to change the audio quality during the upload process, which helps to save space and also improves streaming. I stayed with the "good" setting; but, then again, I’m no audiophile. As long as my music doesn’t sound grainy, then I’m good to go. If you prefer a higher bitrate, there are also options for "better" and "best." The actual bitrates are as follows:
Good: 48kbps AAC+
Better: 64kbps AAC+
Best: 96kbps AAC+
With all the fluff out of the way – lets dig into what’s new with the app/service. Visually, the app looks basically the same, with a minor tweak: radio has now taken the place of songs in the tabs that run across the top (there is an "All Songs" playlist now to take its place). Within the radio tab, there are a few options:
Suggested Station – it collects data from the music that you frequently listen to to create stations according to your particular taste in music.
mSpot Radio – like the name states, these are stations created specifically for use with mSpot.
Internet Radio – this one offers a much larger selection of stations from all across the great wide internet.
Personal Radio – stations that you’ve either created or listened to.
Once you choose a station to play, you are presented with the normal "Now playing" screen, with the addition of the typical internet radio-type controls in the navigation: block song, tag song, play, and next. As with other music discovery services, you are limited to the amount of songs that you can skip. mSpot chose to ration its users to 6 per hour, but I figure that if you’re skipping more than 6 tracks per hour, you’re probably jamming the wrong station.
All in all, the radio feature is exactly what you would expect. It’s good, but not yet great – there were a few instances when I tried to create a station from a particular artist and was presented with a "No stations found for insert artist here." although, I’m sure that as the service gains momentum, they’ll be adding more artists to the radio service.
There are also a few new features in the settings menu, like a lockscreen widget and EQ. Yes, EQ. I don’t know about you, but I was extremely excited when I found this feature as an EQ is something that is lacking from most Android music apps. While the EQ is still quite basic, it does provide enough control to tweak how your tunes sound with little hassle, which is a huge win in my book.
Overall, I would say that this whole update is a huge win, too, and I highly recommend everyone give it a shot. The combination cloud storage and music discovery is something that we’ve needed for a long time – and the added bonuses (like EQ) are just icing on the cake.
The app is free in the Market, but you’ll need to sign up for mSpot’s service in order to fully utilize it.
May 26, 2011