Last.fm for iOS review
Last.fm is a music-streaming app that focuses on “music recommendation”. Once users have signed up, they can search for an artist or track from its catalogue of seven million tracks, and then access ready-made playlists that contain music by their chosen artist, as well as tracks from similar performers.
Unlike Spotify or we7 (which enable you to listen to specific tracks), Last.fm enables you to create an independent radio station based on a selected artist or band. It then plays music similar to that selection.
Unfortunately, you’re limited to artists rather than tracks. If, for example, you ask for music by Blur it will pick one track, but you can’t choose what this is. Even if you enter Parklife it could play Girls & Boys. And from then on it’s a range of Britpop selections such as Oasis.
The service, which offers a streaming quality of 128kbit/s, comes into its own through its use of what is called ‘scrobbles’ – little notes sent to Last.fm that identify the track the user is playing.
Create your own personalised radio station with the Last.fm app
“Scrobbling helps us tell you what songs you play most often, which songs you like the most, how much you’ve played an artist over a certain amount of time, which of your friends have similar tastes… all kinds of stuff,” say Last.fm.
Users can further enhance recommendations by entering their favourite artists into their profile, importing their ‘liked’ artists from Facebook, or even letting Last.fm trawl through their hard drive and look at their existing music collection.
Integration with Facebook and Twitter means that users can share any musical discoveries with friends, and there’s the ability to download tracks using the service’s quick links to 7digital, Amazon and iTunes.
You can use Last.fm for free on a Mac, though the streamed tracks are peppered with ads. iPhone users, however, have to pay £3 per month. It’s good value compared to the likes of Spotify and we7, but it doesn’t let you play a specific track at any time.