Overview: Slacker Radio is one of the most popular streaming music apps on the Google Play and Apple App Store. This app allows you to listen to streaming music on any Android or Apple device as well as on your PC anywhere as long as you have Wi-Fi or a data connection. I've been using exclusively since I found it, Slacker's biggest challenger being Pandora... Pandora can't even come close to keeping up. Slacker has over 200 pre-made radio stations, including live ESPN stations for the sports fans out there (you have to have one of the pay to listen plans for ESPN however). Virtually every song, group, and album can be found on Slacker Radio and listened to whenever you want.
Interface and Options: The interface and screens are very user friendly, when playing any given song you have easily accessible back, play, pause, like, and ban buttons. The ban button allows you to ban the artist playing or just the current song. Very handy when you like an artist but not a particular song. The current album cover is also shown on the main screen, tapping on the cover will being up band bios, a review of the current album, and show you the lyrics of the song playing. Most of this information is accurate, but in quite a few instances there is no information available.
When listening to a station on the top right of your screen there is an icon that will give you the option to customize the station, turning on/off the DJ, or 'fine tuning' the dates, popularity, and many other choices. This gives you the ability to make each station your own.
On the top of the main screen is the Home icon, there you can see the lists of available stations and play lists. Here you can also search for a specific song, album, or artist. All the pre-made radio stations are organized by genre making the station you want easy to find. All of your custom stations and play lists (if you have the upgraded version) can also be found here. There is also a 'Cache' option to save your play lists, stations, and albums to your mobile device. You can choose what you want to be synced to your device and have it with you to listen even if there is no signal, I travel quite a bit and having my stations and play lists saved to my phone has made the long plane trips much more comfortable. Thanks to this ability I have no need for an MP3 player or purchasing music to download to my smartphone or my tablet.
Pros and Cons of Slacker: Pros:Highly customizable listening choices.Great audio quality.Detailed Artist, Album, Song information.Can take it with you anywhere.Station/Play List Caching.
Cons:Some more rare artists are unavailable. (No Henry Rollins Band!)Due to copyrights, and other legal limitations some artists cannot be searched for and put into play lists or stations (Example: You can't choose any Metallica song to put into a play list.).App force closes/crashes on all three of the devices I use the app on (Droid Bionic, PC, and Samsung Galaxy).
Paid Versions vs. Free Versions: Slacker has three paid/free versions of the app. The Plus and Premium version are $3.99 and $9.99 a month respectively. The charge can be billed to your cell phone carrier. Both paid versions of Slacker are Ad Free and come with both ESPN and ABC News stations. With the paid versions you get unlimited song skips whereas the free version you get 5 skips an hour. The premium version allows you to choose songs and albums on demand as well as create your own play lists.
Final Thoughts: To date, I would have to say Slacker Radio is the best streaming music available. It has its small bugs like most apps do these days, but Slacker offers a lot more customization that the other apps like it. While it would be nice to have Slacker free, though I feel the prices are quite reasonable, especially if you listen to music much of the day. It also comes in handy if you listen to multiple different genres and enjoy finding new artists and songs. If the bugs that cause Slacker to freeze and force close were resolved then Slacker Radio would be perfect.
This article was originally published on the Yahoo! Contributor Network and is also published on my website with my other Android Reviews at: Daily Android review. I have daily updates and reviews on my site check it out often.