Advances in 3G coverage and speeds at which data can be transferred, along with Wi-Fi connectivity becoming standard on smartphones, has led to a number of possibilities opening up for the way in which mobile devices can be used.
One of these is the streaming of music, giving users access to an enormous number of tracks without having to store them all on their phone. While playing music over the internet can prove to be costly in terms of data allowance it has become a very popular option with a number of different methods between which smartphone users can choose.
In the latest Dialaphone poll we asked our readers which apps they most commonly use to stream music to their smartphone, and the results showed one particular service is seemingly more popular than any other.
Launched in 2008, Spotify has become one of the world’s leading music services, with in excess of 15 million users. Working on a free, ad-supported model along with a subscription service, Spotify gives access to a library of over 15 million tracks and options to create, save and share playlists while also recommending new music which users my like.
Having launched its first mobile app in 2009, the service is now supported by major operating systems such as iOS, Android and Windows Phone, along with more obscure platforms such MeeGo. While mobile users can only listen to music if they subscribe to the paid version of Spotify, reports suggest that 4 million users do just that, possibly swayed by the fact that they are able to download tracks for offline listening.
Receiving more than half of votes cast in our poll, Spotify was the runway winner and has proved that it is a popular mobile service as well as a desktop one. While offering a new business model to the music industry, Spotify has managed to make services like iTunes look slightly old-fashioned and continues to be an excellent way of accessing music via a smarthphone.
Second in the poll was TuneIn Radio, an app which connects over 3G or Wi-Fi to online radio broadcasts and streams audio to connected devices. Offering an unbelievable number of stations, TuneIn is capable of searching for and connecting to any online audio broadcast, ranging from the biggest radio stations, to niche services and even one-off shows and podcast created by people at home.
Built around a simple interface that mimics a standard music playing app separating major stations into different categories and also including an excellent search function, TuneIn Radio is widely thought to be the best option for listening to radio on the move.
Also a popular choice was the mobile version of another service which began as a web-based offering before finding popularity amongst mobile users. Soundcloud offers a forum for musicians to upload their tracks and create profiles around them, with the service’s distinctive waveform music players being as easy to share and embed as YouTube videos.
Soundcloud has now taken the place that MySpace occupied for a time after the overall popularity of the social network declined, and the service’s mobile app does a brilliant job of condensing its web-based counterpart onto a smartphone display.
The different functions of the service are separated into tabs which run along the bottom of the display and allow users to view their own profile and see a live feed of activity by users followed, similar to Facebook’s wall. Also incorporated within the mobile app is the capability to record straight into Soundcloud and upload a track directly from a phone – while we’re sure this has many musical uses we have also found it to work brilliantly as a dictaphone too.
Bringing up the rear were two well-know offerings which perform quite different tasks. Shazam is a brilliant creation which is capable of listening to a song and identifying it, before linking to the track itself. Whilst comparatively recent arrival Soundhound has doubtless taken some of Shazam’s userbase away, the older app still performs unnervingly well and is both useful and impressive.
Last.fm is another app which offers a mobile version of a web-based service and one which has been around for some time. Put simply, Last.fm allows you to pick an artist before the app streams music that is deemed to be similar to your choice, providing a new kind of taste-based radio. While syncing with Spotify (which offers a similar service itself) Last.fm has still proved to be popular amongst smartphone users.
Running the poll concurrently on the Dialaphone Facebook page produced some different results, as it often seems to. Spotify was still the runaway leader, accruing more votes than all the other options put together, and Soundcloud performed well too. However, TuneIn Radio proved to be more popular amongst our Facebook audience than it did amongst our blog readers.
Overall this poll did receive the greatest response that we’ve ever had but Spotify certainly gained enough votes to call it as the winner. The music streaming service’s app is clearly very popular, as is the web-based version, and its success looks likely to continue.