Once upon a time music sharing wasn’t even possible. Can you believe it? If you wanted to listen to an album a friend recommended you, you had to go to the music store and buy a vinyl disc . Of course, you could’ve went to his place and listen to it there, but if you wanted to listen to it yourself you had to buy it. Later, magnetic cassettes made everything easier. They were also quite fun, jamming and all that. And who doesn’t remember the good old pen rewind method?
Nowadays if you hear a track on your friends media player (smartphone or not) you can give a quick YouTube search for the band for more of its tracks and if you really like them, hop into iTunes, Amazon or any other online music store and download it. But this is not about that. This is about how we share what we listen to to our friends. Sure you can send a YouTube link via e-mail, IM, or posting it on your Facebook Timeline or Twitter Feed, but that would be time consuming. What if there where a site where every track you listen to gets saved for all the people to see? Well, there is.
What is Last.fm?
Last.fm is a service that records all of your music that you play on your computer media player, smartphone or any other supported device. It doesn’t record the actual track, but the track information: artist, track name, album, basically the ID3 of the track. It solely relies on ID3 track information.
Last.fm is available on the Google Play Store for Android 1.5 and up. It’s a free and ad-free app and only about 1.1 megabytes.
There’s also a desktop version of the Last.fm Scrobbler, but this review is solely about the Android App.
Once you download the application you are required to enter your credentials; if you don’t have Last.fm account you can create one through the application itself without opening a single browser window.
Don’t move the application to the SD Card or every time you restart your phone you’ll have manually open the application and re-enter your credentials. It’s something I’ve encountered with all SD Card applications that have logins. They seem to break.
Once you’re logged in you’re taken to your Profile Page in the application. You can view your recommended Artists, Top Played Artist, Albums, Tracks, Recently Played and Friends. They’re pretty self explanatory, but I would have liked it if in the Friends view they added a subtitle to each user, showing the last track they listened to. Instead, you have to go into each of their profiles and view individual stats, much like your own profile page.
Another feature that is really nice to have is the Events Tab. Here you’ll see all the events and even events based on your phone’s current location.
And last but not least there’s the Search tab, where you can search for Artists, Tags and Users. This is also where you can search for Radios…
As I said in the intro the application does not record your tracks, but rather the track information. The being said, they still have a radio service that you can use to stream music straight to your phone. Unfortunately Radio is not available in my country and I couldn’t try it out, but judging how Last.fm recommends me music I expect the Radio is very good as well. (Let me know if it’s terrible.)
Another feature that I really like is how it syncs up with your contacts too. If your friends are using Last.fm also you can sync up their information on your phone. It displays their last played song, just like how you might see their last Facebook or Twitter update. It also syncs up your events on to you Calendar application. A pretty neat way to keep track of your events.
This application is neither a CPU hogger nor a bandwidth hogger. You can even set it up not to scrobble when you’re on mobile data and to send the cache when you’re on Wi-Fi.
Not that it eats up mobile data, but it’s just a good option for users that want some more control.
I really hate how it says that it’s scrobbling the current track and repeats the same information as my player. The majority of music apps do this: they display an ongoing notification that shows current track information. Last.fm does the same thing. There should be a Settings option to turn this off.
Another thing I don’t like is how you can’t see what’s in your scrobble cache, if one exists. A lot of the alternatives – Simple Last.fm Scrobbler, in particular, has this option.
The third thing that keeps annoying me is that whenever I play a song the application goes bonkers. The notification pops up more than once. Not that it doubles when you pull the tray; it appears, disappears, then reappears. It does this two times in a row. Now I’m not sure that this is an application bug, or a ROM bug, but it’s pretty annoying.
All in all Last.fm is a great application for people who want to discover new music and keep track of your current music. It has some loose ends, but quite frankly all applications have their flaws in one way or another. In my book this application deserves a score of 9/10. It’s not pulling your phone’s performance down, it doesn’t eat up your mobile traffic and it helps you discover music that you might like, just by what you listen to.