Songza — previously available as a web or Chrome app only — has been through many iterations. The current one includes stations that are hand-curated by other users. Funnily enough, you can’t listen to the playlists you create, because then Songza would have to pay for a different class of licensing for its 14.5-million-plus songs.
Rather than “Music Similar to the Rolling Stones” (though Songza has plenty of those too) you’ll find more oddball options like “Music From Martin Scorsese Movies” and “Dark Side of the Summer of Love.” Many of these stations are created by Songza staffers, but this free service also allows you to broadcast your own playlist to the world and listen to stations created by others. Think of it like one big mixtape swap meet, along the lines of 8tracks.
A Netflix-style recommendation engine directs you to playlists based on what you’ve told it you like or dislike — a distinction that makes this commercial-free service feel like a viable contender to web-radio heavyweights.
Much of the Songza Chrome and web apps’ functionality makes it to the iPhone and Android intact. Users can browse Songza’s helpful categories, including genres, moods (angsty, funky, soothing, energetic, etc.), decades, and less-traditional categories like “Famous Directors,” “Cover Songs,” and “Indie Music that Isn’t Too Weird” (seriously).
Alternately, if you’re looking for a station in the Pandora model (centered on music similar to a particular artist), Songza allows you to search for playlists based on the artists they feature.
Performance and sound-quality-wise, the apps perform extremely well. Music comes through as clearly as it does on the web version, and we experienced no lag on either Wi-Fi or 3G.
Facebook Connect lets you post what you’re listening to onto your profile, showing off your excellent taste and lets you tune into the Songza stations your friends are listening to — both of which are concepts very much in the news this week.
One feature notably absent from the mobile versions is the ability to create playlists, though you can still listen to and share playlists created by others. The app uses your account from the web, so you can create stations on a computer and share them from your smartphone. These instances of Songza are in tight sync; stations I listened to on my phone immediately showed in the “Recent” section of my web account, and vice versa.
Unfortunately, as of now, the mobile app is not without bugs. With certain categories and stations, we were booted each time we tried to listen (the aforementioned “Indie Music That Isn’t Too Weird” was a particularly bad offender).
Bugs aside, though, this is an encouraging first entry into the mobile app market from Songza. Like the recently released Turntable.fm iPhone app, the Songza apps successfully translate from the web to the smartphone.