Last.fm enters the iPhone realm through the back door

The firm responsible for building the database upon which the Last.fm Internet radio service is built, has created software to enable iPhone users to use Last.fm -- if they want to risk it.

Even though the iPhone has obvious ties to its iPod roots, the availability of streaming music for the device has still has remained something of a mystery. NPR has a streaming news service, and Pandora has brought its Pandora Everywhere Platform can be used on the iPhone, but very few other alternatives are available to users.

Last.fm is a music site built upon the Audioscrobbler engine, where users are able to stream music to their PC and save ratings on Apple's iTunes music service. Now owned and operated by CBS, the service uses a custom made algorithm that analyzes a user's music ratings and will be able to provide music bases on a user's music interests.

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The service is available for free to jailbroken iPhones and iPod Touch MP3 players. "Jailbroken" is a term used for unlocked iPhones that are able to run third-party applications, at the risk of voiding the iPhone's warranty and possibly turning the device into a shiny black-and-silver brick.

The MobileScrobbler service offers users a number of capabilities, including: to queue songs while offline and have them automatically submitted when they first connect; to listen to Last.fm's radio service over Wi-Fi or EDGE; to tag songs; to view album artwork; to cache data for offline viewing; to see the stations your friends are listening to; and to "scrobble" songs as a user listens to them -- which means, they get added to users' personal profiles.

Available to the community under a GNU General Public License, anyone is free to view the source code and make changes to the application. A disclaimer on the Web site warns MobileScrobbler is not endorsed by Apple or AT&T.

MobileScrobbler is the first iPhone service able to utilize Last.fm, but likely will have competition from similar products in the future. It's available in English and German, and an installer can be found on the MobileScrobbler Web site.

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