Welcome the New Last.fm App

If you are a fan of Last.fm’s scrobbling service, like me, you’ve probably not been quite satisfied with the official app that has been around for quite some time now. Instead, you might have tried your luck with plugins or third party apps like Bowtie that allow you to scrobble without having to deal with the official app.

All that’s (hopefully) about to change with the new Audioscrobbler for Mac, which is in beta right now. Want to check it out? Let’s take a look!

What is Last.fm?

Last.fm

Last.fm

Last.fm is everything that any music lover ever dreamed of. It’s a radio service, a social network, an event calendar, and an information library for anything related to music. It also works as a tracker of everything that you’ve ever listened to so that it can then recommend music to you based on what similar users are listening to. It’s the best thing ever. But how do you interact with it from your Mac?

The Old App

Old App

Old App

Last.fm has had a Mac app for quite some time now, that allowed you to scrobble (“scrobbling” is the term used for tracking what you’ve listened to) from your computer and iPod, as well as listen to your radio stations from your desktop, and a few other minor things like viewing artist’s bios.

While it’s perfectly functional, the old app hadn’t been updated in a while and it was starting to show its age; the interface wasn’t ever very pretty and the whole app itself wasn’t anything impressive. At some point I had actually just stopped using it altogether, instead opting for the website and Bowtie to cover all my scrobbling needs. But that’s about to change with the new Audioscrobbler.

Audioscrobbler Beta

A few weeks ago the beta version for the new Last.fm app was made public, promising a more stable, complete and better-looking experience. I think it delivers.

Not only does it have a ton more features that the old app didn’t, but the new Audioscrobbler itself also looks and feels much more modern and friendly. Let’s get into a few of the new features and improvements:

Interface

Interface

Interface

The new interface makes the app feel much more like a native Mac app, with a kind of “mobile” feel where only the most relevant information is shown. The new app is simply divided into 5 submenus accessible through a sidebar on the left, while the actual content is shown on the main area, and the music controls being displayed on the top.

Radio

Radio

Radio

The radio was one of the few features on the old app that made it worthwhile, and it hasn’t changed much in this version of the app. On the “Radio” submenu you can find your recent and personal stations, as well as the famous “Type and press play” search bar.

The radio service only works for subscribers, or residents of the United States, United Kingdom and Germany. However, as of now the beta version of the app will let you use the radio service even if you aren’t a subscriber or reside in those countries.

Profile

Profile

Profile

The new “Profile” submenu gives you quick access to the relevant parts of your profile, like your weekly and overall top artists, as well as some handy stats on your library.

Friends

Friends

Friends

The “Friends” submenu is one of the coolest additions to the app, as it lets you quickly see what your Last.fm friends are listening to and immediately jump into their radio stations.

Scrobbles

Scrobbles

Scrobbles

Under the “scrobbles” submenu, you can find a history of everything you’ve listened to recently, so that you can go back and “Love”, tag, share or buy anything that you’ve listened to.

Now Playing

Now Playing

Now Playing

“Now Playing” is where you can find information on the artist that you are currently listening to. Here, you can find the artist’s tags, pictures, biography, stats, similar artists, as well some links to their  radio station and their music store.

Menu Bar

The menu bar component of the app is still there, and it’s now even more useful, giving you quick access to Love, Ban, Skip, Pause, Tag, Share, enable and disable scrobbling and switch accounts.

Keyboard Shortcuts

A much appreciated addition to the Audioscrobbler is the addition of even more keyboard shortcuts. Now you can pretty much do everything with your keyboard, except for pausing. Some of the new shortcuts include loving, banning, skipping, sharing and tagging.

Bugs, Bugs, Bugs

Despite the much needed improvements that the new Audioscrobbler brings, I wouldn’t recommend completely switching to it as of now, and instead waiting it out for a more stable, official release. After using it for a few days I have found a few bugs that are somewhat annoying. For example, at times the radio would have a bug where the songs would not load properly until you paused them and played them again.

I also couldn’t get the iPod scrobbling feature to work, as the app would never recognize my iPod. From what I’ve read on the forums of the app, this is a common bug and the developers are aware of it.

Conclusion

The new Audioscrobbler provides a much needed update that was long overdue. Its new interface is much more modern and friendly, and I’m sure the new features will be received well by fans of the service. The app still doesn’t integrate all of the social aspects of the service, like the shouts and groups, but the core functionality for listening to and finding new music is there.

However, if you are going to consider downloading the new Audioscrobbler, be aware that it is still in beta release and you will likely find some annoying bugs. I wouldn’t go about completely switching from the old version to the new beta just now, at least not until they fix a few key bugs like the iPod scrobbling.

What do you think? Do you still use services like Last.fm, or have they been already been replaced for you with somewhat similar apps like Spotify? What about the old Last.fm app?


Summary

The beta release of the new Audioscrobbler brings some much needed features that the old app didn't have. However, it still has some bugs that need to be fixed before the official release.

9
  • Endem

    How come the only radio option for non US, UK users is LastFM. What about Pandora, Rdio and Spotify?

    I have used LastFM for quite a while and I find it ok. However, the app doesn’t need as much of an overhaul as the site itself. It really is a mess.

    • RayCon

      @Endem, I believe the reason involves licensing issues and probably other things a bit more complicated. I’m sure any and all of these services would love to be worldwide.

  • http://www.metzener.com/ Dave M.

    Why the recommendation to not use the beta because of possible bugs? This app is clearly not a mission critical app. It’s just an app that counts the number of times you play a song and stores it in the cloud. If it doesn’t work, the absolute worst that could happen is all your count data is destroyed.

    Your computer will not blow up or burn out. It’s not likely to kill an HDD or CPU, so what’s the big deal?

    • http://am0.co.uk Alex

      Some people, including myself, like having all that play count data secure and safe. While I seriously doubt anything like that would happen given that it simply pushes scrobbles to the site and doesn’t delete them, some people really would not be happy if it did. It’s just a fair standard practice for blogs to cover their backs.

      • http://www.metzener.com/ Dave M.

        Maybe it’s me, but I usually assume that “Beta” software has the potential of causing harm. However, public beta’s typically imply they are looking for stress testing. Most bugs that could cause harm to their database have been found and dealt with. This is not to say that there isn’t a bug that could cause harm to the db’s.

        I understand that there are folks out there that want their counts to be safe. They should stay away from any “beta” software.

        I myself have found a bug or two in the new software. An invisible icon in the MenuBar for the app for one. Nothing major, just an annoyance.

        I’m just saying that for most folks, the warning of “Bugs, bugs, bugs” and “I wouldn’t recommend completely switching to it as of now” seem obvious.

  • http://henrymaxm.com henrymaxm

    Before Pandora and Spotify they were the best thing out there, then they started to change their service a bit. I’m happy to see that they look alive and that their actually updating their app, for a while I thought they were going disappear with all the cuts they did.

  • Pieter V

    I’ve been using this app for weeks now
    Giving this mess of an app a 9 destroys your credibility instantly.
    yes, it looks like a native app, but as a reviewer you should instantly see it is only trying to look native while. ot acting like it’s native at all.

    It’s a good start to improvement, nothing more, nothing less.
    these kinds of reviews are what makes mac app developers settle for mediocrity. Thanks for helping destroying the mac app ecosystem with QUALITY apps.

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