Music is a beautiful part of life. While most of us don’t make music (I envy those who do), we all listen to it. But having music play in the background while you’re working on something else is probably not the best way to listen to it, especially if it’s music you’ve never heard of before. Ex.fm is a music discovery service which we’ve covered before, but at the time, it was strictly web-based (with an optional Chrome add-on).
The service has recently released an Android app, so I figured it might be a good idea to take it for a spin.
Starting The App
Upon launching the app, you are greeted with a registration/log-in screen:
This is a bit surprising (disappointing, even), because the website itself (ex.fm) doesn’t require an account to use. Once you create an account (or log in with your existing one, like I did), you are presented with a quick tour:
This is what the “body” of the app looks like:
The “Tastemakers” button shows a stream of users throughout the ex.fm universe. This is a good starting point for hunting a song to listen to; let’s try The Moth And The Mirror:
So this is what an individual song looks like while a song is playing. Pretty slick! And it’s a good song, too, so I tapped the “heart” button on the top left, to “like” the song and save it for future listening. For some reason, the “Share” menu doesn’t use Android’s built-in sharing option, but instead shows a trimmed down menu containing just three ways to share the current track:
The “Buy” button simply opens up a mobile browser to Amazon, and the Shuffle button mixes up the current playlist. Speaking of playlists, you don’t have to actively create those. When I tapped the first song, the app simply launched into a playlist and proceeded playing smoothly. You can also look at the current playlist:
To skip to a different song, simply tap it. You can’t drag songs around to rearrange the playlist, though.
Sooner or later, you’re going to stumble onto an awesome user with great taste with music. When that happens, you should stalk them. Or maybe just “follow”, which is something you can easily do from their profile page:
The profile page also shows you a user’s activity, as well as who else is following that users (and who that user is following).
Your Own Profile
Your own profile page looks quite similar, only you can’t follow yourself (that wouldn’t make much sense now, would it?).
Listening In The Background
Needless to say, playback continues even when you turn off your screen. But what’s nicer is that it also continues when you leave the app and use your phone for other things; when running in the background, ex.fm shows a handy notification with the name of the current song:
Tapping to notification pops you right back into the application.
What Doesn’t Work Right
In a word – search. Searching for artists was an absolute fail when I tried it.
No matter how many times I hit Enter, the screen would refresh for a split-second, and stay just as blank as you see it above. Needless to say, the same search executed on the website works without a hitch, yielding a lovely playlist featuring mellow Mumford & Sons music.
Also, when I switched from Wi-Fi to mobile data midway through a song, the application crashed. It is quite new on the Market, though. Mobile data performance was reasonable for me, but your mileage may vary (depending on your carriers).
Ex.fm shows a lot of promise, and it is already a very good way to listen to music on the go without burdening your device with gigabytes of music files. Once they fix the search, it’ll be even better.