Let’s face it: No matter how much we love music, some of us aren’t the best mixtape-makers. A good playlist is an artform — a clever arrangement of songs, a good flow, a killer “sign-off” jam. For all of us out there who often resort to throwing a bunch of tunes in a playlist and slapping The Doors’ “The End” at the bottom in a weak show of “making an effort” (not that we’ve done this…), there’s now a solution right on your iPad. Yup, those masters of the free and easy playlist, Songza, have finally come out with a tablet app.
O Music Award-nominated Songza is a free online service/streaming music app for iOS, Kindle Fire and Android that focuses on playlist creation and curation, rather than straight-up on-demand music listening (like Spotify) or the passive listen-to-this-because-you-like-that experience of Pandora.
The iPad version of the service brings all the functionality and usefulness of Songza to the tablet. Our favorite feature, undoubtedly, is Concierge. Concierge is a playlist maker that ascertains what day and time it is and offers up a variety of activities that you could be undertaking at that time. For example, “It’s Tuesday afternoon. Play music for: 1). An Energy Boost, 2). Summertime, 3). Brand New Music, 4). Work Or Study, 5). Exploring Obscure Sounds.” Choose one and you’ll be presented with even more factors to help you pick the perfect playlist.
Upon firing up the iPad app, Concierge will pop right up, displaying options for the exact day and time you’re currently slogging through. You can also toggle to other days and times if you want, say, a dragging Tuesday to feel more like a Friday night. The layout of the app is simple and intuitive. If you don’t feel like fiddling with Concierge, other navigation options (Popular, My Playlists, Explore and Search) are displayed in the left-hand column.
Click on “Popular” and you’ll get a list of trending playlists and all-time most popular mixes, as well as a slick carousel at the top of the page that displays timely playlists (Mad Men tunes, songs from Bonnaroo 2012, etc) and mixes created by bands. If you’re looking for a little more specificity than what’s hot right now, click on “Explore” to find playlists sorted by genre, activity, mood, decade, culture and the wryly titled “Record Store Clerk’s” prejudices.
If you’re looking to revisit favorite playlists, you can toggle over to the “My Playlist” section. There, the app logs playlists that you listen to and favorite. (Sadly, it doesn’t seem like you can make playlists in-app, which is a bit of an oversight.) The bottom half of the page keeps it social with a scrolling list of your friends’ activity.
Overall, the app offers pretty much the same functionality as the iPhone version, but the extra room afforded by the iPad — as well as the slick, fun-to-navigate UI — makes the tablet iteration much easier to use. Sometimes — especially when using Concierge — clicking through to a playlist on the iPhone can be like going down a rabbit hole: You can’t really remember what path you took to get there and it’s hard to figure out how to find your way out. With the iPad, your navigation tools (IE your dashboard) is always in view, making it easy to escape from, say, that “Margaritaville” playlist you mistakenly clicked on.
OK, so not all of Songza’s playlists are perfect…