Among the many apps available for the iPhone are a number of ways to listen to music other than that stored on the phone.
There is more of a choice in this area for US iPhone users, as services like Pandora are not available in the UK, but there are still a few good apps around…
Originally launched in France, the online version of Deezer allows users to access any track on demand from a choice of 3m+, thanks to deals with Universal, SonyBMG and Warner.
While it lacks some of the sophistication of Last.fm, such as linking with your iTunes library and playing friends’ radio stations, you do have a huge selection of tracks to listen to free, and on demand.
The biggest disappointment with the Deezer iPhone app is that this on demand option is not available on the phone, though it is still good as a radio app.
You can either select a song at random from the various categories on offer, or choose an artist radio station, which will play related music.
The app is simple to use works well, there is little time spent waiting for songs to load, and the breadth of music on offer is impressive.
The Last.fm app manages to transfer plenty of the web-based version’s features onto the iPhone – you can log into your account and access your charts and favourites lists, as well as your own library and music.
You can also access your friends’ via the service and listen to their Last.fm radio stations, which broadens your choice of music.
As with the web version, the iPhone app lets you skip through tracks, add tags, share, love or dismiss, as well as providing a link to buy the songs on iTunes.
All in all, a pretty good app, but it does have a couple of drawbacks. The audio quality is good, but there is a lot of buffering between songs, which can get annoying. Also, this app can be heavy on the iPhone’s battery; it drained nearly half of my battery in little over an hour.
Free to download, this is a must-have app. If you hear a song on the radio, or in the background, simply hold your iPhone in the direction of the music, and Shazam will figure out what it is.
Better still, having indentified the song in question, Shazam gives you a link to the iTunes store to buy it, as well as linking to any related videos on YouTube. Straightforward and easy to use.
Bloom is a music app from Brian Eno and Peter Chilvers, which lets you compose ambient music on your iPhone, described as ‘part instrument, part composition and part artwork’.
You can simply play notes by tapping on the phone screen; tapping the top of the screen gives you treble notes, bass at the bottom. It has been configured in a way that makes hitting a bum note impossible, so nearly everything you tap in sounds pretty good.
Once you have tapped in a pattern of notes, it will repeat them at intervals and allow you to add more and build up the sound. While the other apps here are free, Bloom is £2.39 from the App Store.
Graham Charlton is a researcher at E-consultancy. Find him on Twitter
Mobile Internet Roundtable Briefing – June 2008