How good are the new applications for the iPhone?

Innovation, the Internet, gadgets, and more.
July 16 2008 4:27 PM

The iPhone Makeover

Will third-party programs push Apple's handheld over the top?

(Continued from Page 1)

One program did strike me as being truly revolutionary and worth every hassle you go through just to get an iPhone these days: Pandora radio. You may know Pandora from its many years on the Web; the much-beloved Internet radio service analyzes your musical taste according to a rigorous music-theory system and offers up songs it thinks you might like. Often, it's frighteningly accurate: Play Pandora on your computer for a few hours, and you start to suspect the software's tapped into your frontal lobes.

Like other Internet radio stations, Pandora has been trying to offer a mobile service for many years but hadn't had much luck convincing cellular carriers to play along. Last year, AT&T and Sprint signed up with Pandora, but both carriers required a monthly fee ($9 on AT&T and $3 on Sprint). Tim Westergren, the composer who founded Pandora, says that he's always wanted to offer a free, ad-supported streaming mobile radio station. The new iPhone lets him do just that.

Advertisement

When you load up Pandora, music that you love—some songs you know, some you don't—streams from the Internet and into your earbuds at no charge. You can tell the app what you like by pressing a thumbs-up or -down button, and you can always skip a track. (Buying songs you like is also very easy.) Do this for a few minutes, and you begin to wonder how you'll ever live without it.

Streaming radio is the perfect complement to an MP3 player—you could say it's the part of the iPod that's been missing all along. While your iPod plays music you already own, Pandora gives you music you don't know but will probably like. Now, with the iPhone and its built-in iPod, you've got both: a full library of songs you've purchased and the entire Internet of songs you might like.

Not everyone is happy with the new App Store system. The iPhone, to the consternation of some developers, is still not completely "open" to outside apps—at least not in the way your desktop machine is. Apple takes a cut of every app sold, for example, and imposes its own user-interface guidelines and technical limitations that some say are meant to stifle competition.

But the doors may have been opened just far enough to change everything. Since the store launched, iPhone users have streamed 3 million tracks through Pandora, and Westergren says they're listening for an average of nearly an hour a day. It's been up for less than a week, and the iPhone App Store has already killed Top 40 radio. What's next?

TODAY IN SLATE

Doublex

Crying Rape

False rape accusations exist, and they are a serious problem.

Scotland Votes to Remain in U.K.

There’s a Way to Keep Ex-Cons Out of Prison That Pays for Itself. Why Don’t More States Use It?

The Music Industry Is Ignoring Some of the Best Black Women Singing R&B

Can Democrats Keep Counting on Republicans to Offend Women as a Campaign Strategy?

Culturebox

Theo’s Joint and Vanessa’s Whiskey

No sitcom did the “Very Special Episode” as well as The Cosby Show.

Television

The Other Huxtable Effect

Thirty years ago, The Cosby Show gave us one of TV’s great feminists.

Cliff Huxtable Explains the World: Five Lessons From TV’s Greatest Dad

Why Television Needs a New Cosby Show Right Now

  News & Politics
The World
Sept. 19 2014 11:36 AM Breaking Up Countries Is Still Hard to Do
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 19 2014 11:37 AM Why Urban Outfitters and Other Brands Troll Their Customers
  Life
Lexicon Valley
Sept. 19 2014 11:32 AM Why Do Pirates Talk Like That?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 11:33 AM Planned Parenthood Is About to Make It a Lot Easier to Get Birth Control
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Sept. 18 2014 1:23 PM “It’s Not Every Day That You Can Beat the World Champion” An exclusive interview with chess grandmaster Fabiano Caruana.
  Arts
Behold
Sept. 19 2014 11:51 AM This Is All That’s Left of New York’s Once-Thriving Borscht Belt 
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 11:40 AM Apple Invented the Perfect Way to Handle Your Giant New Phone
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 19 2014 11:33 AM The Curious Incident of the Supernova in the Nighttime
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.