In the last two weeks I’ve managed to work my way into three different limited release web applications. Turntable.fm and Spotify are both music related services and Google+ is Google’s new social network which it is pitting against Facebook. With three such intriguing services to try out it’s been hard to get much work done, but at least I have some great things to share with all of you. Here’s a little bit about each service and what I think of them.
Spotify is a streaming music service that is very similar to services such as Rhapsody, Rdio, and to a lesser extent, Pandora. It’s been available in Europe since 2008 and just landed in the US a couple of days ago. You download a simple client program that serves as your music player and a portal to search for music. When you find a song you like you can play it immediately, add it to a playlist for later playing, or click to share it with friends on Facebook and Twitter. There are 3 tiers of service: Free, Unlimited, and Premium.
Free: Ad supported and will have limits on hours of music played and the number of plays of each song in the future, though it doesn’t seem to right now. I read that this will be evaluated and probably go into effect after 6 months. These accounts are also restricted right now. You can sign up for an invite on their website or do like I did and log onto Klout.com. As I just now found out, if five of you go there through that link I’ll be able to try out the premium service. Awesome unintended perk of researching this blog post!
Unlimited: $4.99/month. Removes the currently nonexistent time limits on streaming and also removes the mildly annoying audio and graphical ads. You also get a bump in music quality.
Premium: $9.99/month. You get the perks of the Unlimited version plus the ability to use the mobile app for streaming. You can use this feature on up to 3 devices including Android devices, iOS devices like the iPhone/iPad, and several others.
My thoughts: I’ve been playing with Spotify nonstop for the last couple of days and I’m finding it hard to have any real gripes. The music catalog is HUGE! I’ve yet to find anything that it doesn’t have (except when I spelled something wrong, it’s not very forgiving in that respect). And I’ve tried some pretty obscure stuff. There have been a couple of hiccups with some songs not playing or resuming after ads play, but restarting the program seems to fix that. I’m already itching to try out the premium version so I can try it out on my phone. Pandora is great for discovering new music and I won’t give it up, but if I go premium I think I will be using it a lot less. If you love music there’s no reason you shouldn’t at least check it out.
Turntable.fm is a new site where you can share music with people in a group setting. Music is played by DJs at a virtual DJ table in the front of each Turntable room. The coolest part is that if there are less than five people at the DJ table you can click the open seat and become a DJ yourself! On the right hand side of the interface you can pick the songs you want to play when you are at the DJ table and also chat with other people in the room with the box at the bottom. If you like the song that is playing in the room you can click a button at the bottom that says “Awesome” and your avatar will bob its head with the music. The DJ who selected it will also get a point that appears on their profile and helps them unlock new avatars. There is also a “Lame” button. If enough people click the lame button the track will be skipped. You need to be friends with someone on Facebook who is already on Turntable to get in right away, or you can request an invite on the main page.
My thoughts: I love Turntable. I frequent a room that was inspired by the Twitter hashtag #LOFNOTC (Losers Of Friday Night On Their Computers). The hashtag was started by the glorious Amanda Palmer (@amandapalmer), so she pops in every now and then. It’s a great room and I suggest you check it out this Friday. There is also #LOSNOTC for Saturdays and tons of other rooms to check out. Whether you are too shy to DJ or love the limelight, it’s a great place to hang out and hear new music and old favorites.
Google+ or Google Plus, is Google’s first serious leap into social networking. It is similar enough to Facebook that anyone who uses that service should be at home on Google+. You can share links, videos, and photos, as well as make text posts. There is a mobile app for Android phones and the mobile site works well on other devices. It’s currently available by invite. You can sign up for an invite on the Google+ site, or beg one of your friends who is already in to send you one.
My thoughts: If you read my previous post you already know I like Google+.To me Google+ beats Facebook in almost every aspect. I find it simpler and more intuitive to use. I think the +1 button is better than “like” on Facebook because it doesn’t automatically share. That’s what the share button is for. By far the coolest feature though, comes with the Android App. The app can automagically upload all of the photos you take directly to a private album on Google+ for you to share at your leisure. If you find Facebook to be annoying or lacking I highly suggest you give Google+ a try.
Are you on any of these services already? What do you think of them? Are there any other betas that I should be trying to get in on? Let me know in the comments.