Pandora injects personalized control (and dazzle) into latest app refresh

pandora station details screenPandora updated its iPhone and Android apps, giving user more control of their stations and a shiny new interface to certain functions. The refreshed apps are being roll out incrementally to Pandora’s large listenership, with three percent of users added to the initial beta period.

Pandora’s music intelligence, and key competitive differentiator, is the Music Genome which learns about the user’s taste and funnels personalized music into artist/song-based stations. The new apps give power users more control over how the Genome perceives them, and how their stations serve up music selections.

The key new feature is called Station Details, accessed by touching the Personalization Icon (also new). The Station Details screen provides a station history review of songs already played. Crucially, it also displays a history of thumbing history — that’s the thumb-up and thumb-down voting on tracks that listeners use to refine their stations. Pandora has long affirmed that thumbing is an essential part of the company’s Big Data operation, and it vitally informs the Music Genome about each listener’s preferences. (Song-skipping is an important data point, too.)

In the thumbing history, users can now change song evaluations retroactively. This is a milestone development, and a cool one in our view. Seeing the balance of up and down voting shines light on whether the station is serving you well, and the reverse engineering allows productive tinkering.

You can also rename the station on the Station Details screen.

New dazzle has been added to the app with fly-outs when stations are selected and thumb-ups are bestowed.

Brad Hill