Wednesday, July 16, 2008 for iPhone is Many Different Kinds of Awesome

So today I officially entered the league of iDorks and bought myself an iPhone 3G. I just hope I don't become one of those people who is way too conspicuous when they use their iPhone in public in order to draw attention to themselves. If you see me on the street flicking away at the screen like I am conducting a class demonstration, then please hurl your best insults at me because I deserve it.

Anyway, one of the things that made the new iPhone an attractive purchase for me (besides the fact that it's purdy) was the addition of 3rd party applications (albeit, only if they passes Apple's certification process). Apple's decision to allow developers to download an SDK and create applications means the iPhone is now a legitimate mobile computing platform. And with the addition of GPS and 3G data, the possibilities are plentiful to merge information with social media and location-specific data. Immediately I started thinking of the tantalizing implications this could have to how we enjoy and discover music. Luckily, the developers behind the iPhone application shared my enthusiasm.

As the blue box at the top left of the page shows, I am a HUGE fan of So many of my friends and family ask me what music I am listening to at the moment and now I can merely refer them to my blog or my page. On my page you can see which songs I listened to most recently, which songs/artists I listen to most often, what concerts I plan on attending and playlists of some of my favorite tracks.

Another great feature is the custom radio stations, where you can simply plug in an artist/band and will start playing songs from them and anyone else who sounds similar. This is similar to Pandora (another great music discovery service) except that relies on the listening habits of their their vast user community to determine what is similar. If you like a particular radio station, then simply save it and play it later. Create as many stations as you like.

Radio stations are the centerpiece of what makes's incarnation on the iPhone a success. Now that 3G data allows for high quality audio streaming virtually anywhere (instead of being limited to wifi hotspot coverage), which means you can theoretically discover new music whenever you want. You can read The Fader at a bookstore and lookup all the obscure indie bands they write about and judge for yourself if they are worth all that ink. Or maybe you are sitting at a concert venue and have no idea who the opening act is. Open up and search for them in an instant. Like what you hear? Click the 'Events' button at the bottom of the screen and find out the next time they are playing in town. Touch the 'Similar Artists' button and discover new bands that you'll probably like too.

Another feature with potential is 'Top Listeners', which allows you to see which members of the community listen to a given artist most frequently. It would be nice if you could add these users to your friends directly from the application, but currently that isn't possible. What would be even better is if you could tie in GSP and look up the location of similar users in real time. This may not be that practical on a day-to-day basis, but think of how useful it could be at one of those massive summer festivals. You could literally segment the audience down to people who share your similar interests.

The application is only a few days old, so I'm inclined to cut the developers some slack as they continue to iron out the kinks and add functionality. For now, I will enjoy being able to listen to my custom radio stations from my car stereo.

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