How Rdio Undesigned Its Apps

In the past few months, I’ve enjoyed using the popular music streaming service Rdio to listen to my favorite tunes on my Mac, in the car with my iPhone, and in coffee shops with my iPad. As I never wished to create a Facebook account just so I could use Spotify, Rdio seemed to be a great solution and it also included a much more decent user interface throughout all the apps – the designers worked hard to make sure the experience didn’t fall short in this area.

Last week, however, someone seems to have stumbled in a hole, for the service announced on it’s blog that they were refining the look of their web and Mac apps to be lighter, apparently both on the eyes and bandwidth. Sadly, it’s far from pleasing to my eyes. In fact, I’ve found it to be worse than Spotify. Please allow me to explain…


Now, while this element could be one of little importance to some, I think that it has a significant amount of influence on an app’s overall appeal. In the new Rdio, everything from the sign in screen and main interface to the close, minimize, and zoom buttons is completely lacking in contrast. I really can’t believe that there’s not any sort of dark gradient whatsoever. The majority of this new user interface is a horrible #fffff with a tad #89949B and #2998D8 here and there, but surely not enough.

Not even the OS X buttons at the top are without lightness.

Not even the OS X buttons at the top are without lightness.

The navigation buttons in the top left corner looks very strange with barely any shadow to distinguish them from the white in the background. I’d say that the only prominent contrast that can be seen in light Rdio is within the search function (above). Other than that, it’s blinding. Even their main website has a terrible choice of colors with even lower contrast yet.

Gone Metro?

There are some who think that the designers at Rdio are attempting to implement a certain iteration of the new Windows 8 Metro guidelines within their Mac, web, and Windows apps. This makes sense, but I really wish they wouldn’t have been so bright in the final release, lacking all color but one shade of blue. I mean, even Metro has a good variation of colors and looks very nice in some areas – I’m not saying all because it really doesn’t everywhere.

I think the only thing about this new “design” that even looks like it could live up to what the word truly means is the icon. It’s still unique, looks nice, and actually makes me want to keep using the service. It even has a little bit of a 3D look, suggesting that not all non-Metro appeal has been stripped from the app.

Bad Decisions

What happened to this beautiful interface?

What happened to this beautiful interface?

One of the main reasons that I used Rdio to listen to music was not the core functionality – it was the user interface. Before last week’s near-monochrome atrocity, I could tell people that every app they’ve ever made had a good deal of eye candy. But now it’s not even on the level of another competitor; it’s below them all completely in design. I wish I could say it had more going for it than that, but the new “lighter” Rdio is just a failure in all proportions.

This new design looks terrible on Macs and even on Windows computers. I just don’t understand how the designer got a sudden urge to change everything about the app into a bland excuse for design. Until something about it changes, I’m staying away from Rdio and trying out something like MOG instead. At least it’s not as hurtful to my eyes.

Now that I’ve spoken, what do you think of Rdio’s new “design”?