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A closer look at Songza 3.0 for iOS

Software & AppsGuides
by Stephanie Mlot, 03 May 2013Guides
A closer look at Songza 3.0 for iOS

Music discovery service Songza has launched version 3.0 of its iOS app, with a simpler, cleaner, prettier user interface, as well as new ways to interact with the application.

Users immediately jump into the changes, starting with the app's home screen, where the music concierge page is now a full-screen, immersive experience that changes colours from morning through night to mirror the day's pace. Moving from the yellows, oranges, and pinks of sunrise to the deep blues and purples of the night, the feature aims to put users in the right mood for the time of day. 

Additionally, other UI elements have been removed, including the Songza title logo and the bottom-of-the-screen toolbar. Instead, navigation options like concierge, activities, moods, genres, and decades can be found in a pop-out navigation screen (click the three lines in the top left corner).

Or, for a little more fun, shake your iPhone to generate a real-time chat feature, in which the smiling Songza monster will pop up, asking "What do you need music for?" Type in any activity — baking, driving, working out, having a few pints with friends — and the music concierge page will provide six options, just as it would via clicking on the concierge button.

From that screen, users can choose a suggested activity, and from there pick the playlist that seems best suited for the situation. But most people want their music instantly. The new Songza app lets users start playing their favourite tunes immediately, without the added steps. Just tap on any concierge situation for two seconds, and the app will automatically choose which playlist it thinks the user would most enjoy. The purpose, Sonzga co-founder Elias Roman said, is to make Songza as easy, accessible, and fast as any car radio.

Using an algorithm, the application can make a final decision based on other playlists and artists the user has previously liked, or thumbed-up, in the case of Songza — a sort of "feeling lucky" route, as Roman put it.

The update also includes the ability to search for an artist and find every expertly curated playlist that features them. Instead of taking what Roman called "the Pandora approach," in which a search query simply begins a new station, the app offers a list of expertly curated playlists from which to choose.

Want to listen to Green Day on a Saturday bike ride? Type in the band's name, and pick from any of the available stations, all of which feature the punk rock group, including '90s Pop Punk, Musical Caffeine: Punk Wake-Up Call, and The World of Foo Fighters.

Don't worry if Songza's changes seem overwhelming, though. The app gradually provides visual tips throughout the new user experience, but steers clear of those long tutorials that force users to sit through directions they will inevitably forget later.

"We're proud of having an app that doesn't need an instruction manual," Roman said. Instead, a set of tool kits will pop up over time, teaching users what they need to know when it makes sense to know it.

Less sexy app improvements include a huge increase in performance speed, bug fixes, and support for more than 200 of the most popular headphone models in conjunction with Songza's HQ audio feature.

The iOS changes will eventually make their way to the Android app, as well as the web service. The updated application is currently available in the iTunes App Store.

Check out the new Songza in action in the video below.

Roman called this update a big step for the company, saying he's really pleased with the product — a sentiment echoed by The Webby Awards, an international award honouring excellence on the Internet. Among the 17th annual awards' winners was Songza, in the Music category. Streaming music competitor Pandora won the "People's Voice" honour, among nominees Vevo Mobile, DeliRadio, and Thrillcall.

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