Pandora launches a new beta of its desktop music app

The Music Genome Project has released a beta of its music-recommending internet radio service Pandora as a gadget that works independently of browsers, based upon Adobe AIR.

Everything that the user gets in the in-browser version of Pandora can now be delivered from the system tray or dock of his system, with the latest Pandora Desktop beta for Windows and Mac, released this week. This is beneficial because the gadget itself is no small item. In the Pandora blog, this issue is somewhat shamefacedly addressed:

"Advertising is an integral part of the Pandora experience and in an effort to keep the advertising as unobtrusive as possible we've focused on graphical ads rather than audio ads. The one downside to that is that we need lots of pixels to run the ads, so one thing you'll find with the desktop app is it's not some tiny little widget."

Pandora running in system tray

Fortunately, exposure to ads can be almost totally sidestepped by using the dock/tray controls, which list the artist and song title as well as the ability to switch to other user-created stations.

Currently, the Windows version of this application is superior in performance to the Mac version, which suffers from frequent hiccups, peppering songs with annoying stutters. This is listed as a known issue, and the development team is aware that the Mac version is "more CPU intensive than we'd like it to be." It appears to be a largely AIR-related issue.

Mac users would be better suited to just stick to the browser-based version of Pandora for now, or try similar in-browser radio service Jango (although that service needs to always be open to go from song to song.)

Pandora Application for Windows (where are the ads?)

In running the Mac version, I hadn't logged onto Pandora in probably eight months, yet it took me directly to my player without having to enter any login information. This somewhat unnerved me, as I clean my browser cache daily and do frequent system cleansing. Conversely, the version I ran on my Windows system did not recognize me, nor was I served any advertisement. Perhaps it was a fluke, but I quit and re-ran the application several times, and no ads were ever present. In the Mac version, however, the ads appeared every time.

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