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Innovation

Last.fm app debuts on iPhone and iPod touch (video)

On the opening day of the App Store, a number of competing music streaming applications were available, including major brands AOL Radio and Virgin, along with a favorite of mine, Pandora. However, one notable admission on day one was the music social network and ad-supported streaming music service, Last.
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Written by Steve O'Hear on
On the opening day of the App Store, a number of competing music streaming applications were available, including major brands AOL Radio and Virgin, along with a favorite of mine, Pandora. However, one notable admission on day one was the music social network and ad-supported streaming music service, Last.fm. That all changed today. Developed by Last.fm's Sam Steele, the new free app for iPhone and iPod touch brings much of the site's core functionality to Apple's mobile platform. First up, users can start streaming music based on artist or tag, so for example you could create a radio station featuring Bob Dylan and similar music, as determined by the site's community. From then on in, you're offered the usual option to rate each track favorably or ban it completely. As with other versions, Last.fm will take your votes to improve its algorithm in order to deliver better music matches. A related feature is the ability to have the app help you discover new artists based on your listening history. Outside of music streaming and recommendations, the Last.fm iPhone app offers a few additional social features, including the ability to share you favorite tracks with your friends using the iPhone contact list, publish your iPhone Last.fm listening history to your profile on the main website, as well as get concert and event notices and indicate on your profile if you are going to attend. The events functionality also ties in nicely with the iPhone / iPod touch's Google Maps application.
Last.fm iPhone Demo from Toby on Vimeo. There are, however, a number of limitations based on the constraints Apple has placed on its platform. From the Last.fm blog:
there are no background applications allowed on the iPhone/Touch. There are several implications to this, but what it mostly means is any time you click a link that loads Safari, the music will stop and you’ll have to restart the app. This means event maps, and bio links. We’re looking at alternatives, but for now that’s the breaks.
Additionally, based on the same limitation, Last.fm is unable to "scrobble" (keep track of) the music you listen to on the iPhone / iPod touch's built-in music player. Therefore, only tracks listened to via the Last.fm app itself will dynamically affect recommendations or show up on your Web-based Last.fm profile. Instead, you'll need to sync your device with the desktop version of iTunes, presumably you have the Last.fm plug-in installed. Moving forward, Last.fm says it is talking to Apple to help develop a way round these two limitations. And while you may think that there is more chance of hell freezing over than Steve Jobs helping a competing music service, note that each track displayed on Last.fm's iPhone and iPod touch app has a direct link to purchase on iTunes.
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