Rdio improves personalization of its iOS app

In the conforming world of subscription music services, many of which share the same broad features, it is easy to assume that they exist in parity, competing on the basis of design rather than function. But then one of those services will update one of its products, and it becomes apparent that it has lacked an important feature that might have existed on competing platforms for years. That was the case when Rhapsody recently introduced genre stations — basic, belated, and nicely implemented.

In that context, a new update to Rdio’s Apple app is surprising, but welcome. Rdio now refines its playlist suggestions on the basis of the user’s listening history and social following. This refinement is crucial in any listening service which hopes to retain its users. When the service gets smarter about your taste over time, it plays better music and gains in value. Without that increasing stickiness, retention is more difficult.

Along with the underlying intelligence layer, the iOS app now makes a three-fold display of songs in the playlist. The current album art is surrounded by previous and next selections, enabling the user to swipe ahead to the next track, as illustrated in the screenshot. (You cannot swipe backward, alas.)

Brad Hill