Whether for reasons of space allocation or out of a simple desire to strip things down to basics, a few elements of the Rdio experience have been left out of the iPad app, and though these omissions aren't dealbreakers, they do make the iPad app feel like an addendum to your Rdio account. That isn't completely out of sync with the iPad paradigm in general, but having become used to Rdio's strong desktop offerings I found a few key absences a bit frustrating.. Artist bios and album info aren't included, which is a bit inconvenient, but certainly forgivable.
More oddly, you won't find some of Rdio's central social features on the iPad. Within the app there's no easily accessible way to find interesting new people to follow — there's nothing like the desktop app's full-featured user account screen, which includes a list of suggested "people to follow", both "influencers" and regular folks and also lets you search your other social networks and contact lists for friends who might be on Rdio as well. . Using the main search tool will turn up Rdio listeners alongside albums, songs, and playlists, but those returns are based on their names, not their interests, thus it's more or less impossible to figure out which of them you might want to follow, unless you're looking specifically for people you already know. On the iPad, you'll have the best luck looking over the followers of the people already in your network, but you'll find yourself turning to the desktop app to really use this primary element of the Rdio music discovery experience.
The social feature I missed most here, however, was the inclusion in each album's information pop-up of a list of other Rdio subscribers who'd played that record lately or have added it to their Collections, with access to a summary of their other recent listening and an option to follow them. On the desktop, I find this the best route by which to find useful people to follow, and found myself wishing I could do the same from the iPad.
But that's probably nitpicking. This app has plenty of strong points — it's quite easy to access the music in your own Collection, and the Activity feed and Recommended albums browsers do go a long way towards making the tablet music discovery process enjoyable, especially if you're willing to drill down a bit into the data shared by those in your Network to find like-minded Rdio fans. And if you don't see the need to be connected to a huge number of near-strangers at all times, or have no interest in being part of yet another social network, you won't miss a thing.
Overall, the Rdio iPad app seems intended as much more of a "lean back" experience than either of the service's desktop offerings, and it's a beautiful highly enjoyable interface for listening. I personally prefer a more computer-like approach in my tablet apps, so I would have liked to see more access to the service's deeper social and music discovery features. But for many listeners, I think the eminently browsable touchscreen album graphics will be more than enough. And, of course, you may recall that there's no social network attached to an actual record collection, so that sort of thing isn't really a necessity.
Given how quickly the subscription streaming services have moved to incorporate one another's strengths over the past year, I'm really looking forward to seeing Rdio's app evolve in the near future as MOG and Spotify bring out their own tablet offerings. Keep an eye on the App Store in the coming weeks.
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