I’ve been a long-time subscriber to the music streaming site Rdio.com, because it saves me from buying songs and albums I might only listen to a few times, and provides me with a network of contacts who help me discover new music I might enjoy.
Rdio provides a free limited music streaming service, but for $5 per month you can stream unlimited music via the Rdio web browser or desktop client. For an extra $5 per month, you can have Rdio streaming to your iPhone, over both a Wi-Fi and cellular connection. If that’s not enough, you can also save songs and albums to your iPhone for offline listening. Because of these and other features, we have added the Rdio iPhone app (free) to our Best of iPhone Apps page.
If you don’t know much about your digital music options, check out my beginner’s guide.
Your Personal DJ
You can register and get free unlimited access to Rdio on the iPhone for two weeks. After that it costs $9.99 for a monthly subscription. You can also now listen to Rdio Stations for free on iOS and Android devices, but free access to Stations is limited and you can’t save tracks and albums to your Collections.
Sliding to the right of any open page in the app reveals a menu sidebar of all the sections of the app. Heavy Rotation contains the music your Rdio contacts are listening to the most. Similarly, the Recent Activity section shows songs and albums recently played by other subscribers in your network. These sections, along with Top Charts and New Releases, are useful for discovering new music, or music you haven’t listened to in a while.
The biggest downside to the New Releases and Top Charts section is that you can’t filter them for the type of music genres you like to listen to. So if you choose contacts whose music compatibility is close to your own, you’re more likely to discover the type of music you like in the Recent Activity section.
You can also tap on the avatar of a contact to view his or her recent playing activity, collections, and playlists.
Your Music Collections
One of the benefits of being a Rdio subscriber is the ability to add songs and albums to your personal collection and playlists, just as you do in iTunes. In the app you simply tap and hold on the cover art of an album or the title of a song to bring up the menu for adding items to your collections.
Add new playlists from within the app and they will show up in your account on all your devices. Unfortunately, neither the mobile or desktop version of Rdio includes smart playlists, so you will have to build them manually. Rdio also doesn’t allow users to rate songs.
When you tap on the menu button at the top-right, you can select how to filter your collection by recently added, artists, or synced songs.
Like the desktop client, the Rdio app also includes a History section which lists all your played songs and albums.
Under Playlists you can filter by your personal playlists, synced only playlists, lists that you collaborate on with other subscribers, and lists you subscribe to. The app allows you to add to the lists as you would on the desktop client.
The checked albums and songs in a list indicate that they are a part of your collection.
A significant advantage for some Rdio listeners is the ability to sync songs directly to the iPhone so they can be played offline if need be. Sync a song or album to your iPhone by briefly pressing down on an item until the menu options appear, just as you would to add songs to your collection. You can also remove songs through this same menu.
You can add as many songs on your iPhone as its memory space has room for. In the History and Collections sections your synced songs and albums will be marked with an orange icon.
Viewing and managing your synced songs is a little tricky. To see them in your collections, tap on the top-right menu icon and select to filter them by Synced Songs, which results in a list of your synced items. Unfortunately they are not presented in a visual grid list.
There doesn’t appear to be a way to batch-remove synced songs from your device, so you will want to keep in mind how many items you are adding to your device if it has limited space.
You can also sync your existing playlists, and then access them by filtering for Synced Only in the playlist section. It would be nice if there were a dedicated section for synced songs.
If you choose to sync songs only when you’re connected to Wi-Fi, and not cellular, you can tap and add songs to be synced, and then when you’re connected to Wi-Fi, tap on Sync in the menu section and then tap Check Now for songs that have not yet been synced to your device.
No iOS 7 Update Yet
The Rdio app, which is also optimized for the iPad, has not yet been updated for iOS 7, but in my use of it I find it performs well with no crashes, and is fairly easy to navigate. The downside of using a music streaming site like Rdio is that you lose access to your collected songs when you close your account or if the company closes down.
That said the monthly subscription is much more affordable than buying songs and albums. I listen to more songs in a single month than I would purchase in an entire year.
Download: Rdio for iPhone (Free)
Let us know what you think about the Rdio service and the iPhone app. Are there features you would like to see added?