Rdio app sees major update to appearance, offline controls

Mar 3, 2011

Rdio, created by the founders of Skype, recently released a massive overhaul of its Rdio app for iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. Most of the changes users will see in Rdio are cosmetic, but developers have also added some improvements in functionality.

If you aren’t familiar with Rdio, it’s a subscription-based, streaming-music service, with a social twist that allows users to explore other users’ musical tastes. Offering a library of 8-million-plus tracks, Rdio’s Unlimited plan costs $9.99 a month, while Rdio Web is $4.99, which supports desktop service only. Interested consumers can register for a seven-day free trial, which gives mobile and desktop access.

Rdio has overhauled its home screen with version 1.0.1, now offering hot buttons to website features, such as top charts and recommended and new releases. The music player itself has also moved to a standard position at the bottom of the screen. This placement now makes it easy to browse Rdio’s offerings and organize your collection and playlists, while still having control of your current listening.

Rdio has considered iPhone users with limited data plans with this update, too. The service offers offline syncing of music so you can still listen while in a train tunnel or on an airplane. Users can specify Rdio’s syncing habits, allowing the service to sync on both Wi-Fi and 3G, only Wi-Fi or not at all, to control the amount of bandwidth the app uses. Albums available for offline playing are denoted with an orange icon.

There seems to be a major crashing issue in this version of Rdio. Quite a few times when I moved back to “Collection” after playing a new song, the app froze. Because Rdio runs in the background, closing and reopening the app wasn’t a fix, instead I had to wait for the app to fail on its own during the relaunch, and reopen yet again.

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Rdio’s cost might deter some, and I can’t see the service making fiscal sense for those with a hefty iTunes’ library, but Rdio was able to locate and stream every song I searched for, down to some comparably obscure tunes. Sound quality was flawless, and I liked checking out playlists created by other users. I could instantly play those tracks or add them to my own collection. Rdio made listening to music easy, and while I’m not sure its subscription model is right for me, I’m glad the free trial gave me a chance to explore its offerings.

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