There are plenty of radio services out there, and most of them offer different music and/or features than the others. This makes it hard for audiophiles to remain loyal to just one radio service, and if you are anything like me, you have accounts that you use with more than one of these radio services.
Today we are reviewing an app that is called Musicality, and it works as a desktop app that can play your Pandora and Last.fm radio stations without the need of having a browser tab or window open. How good is it? Let’s find out.
Musicality goes for $6 dollars on the Mac App Store, but if you head over to the developer’s website, you can get a free 10 day trial. The first time you open the app, you’ll be greeted with a Welcome window where you can access a few links that will help you get familiar with the app. These will take you directly to the dev’s website, and the topics in them range from giving you a quick written introduction to the app, to helping you get familiar with using the Apple Remote with the app.
After this greeting window, you’ll be shown the main window, which is pretty empty right now. As a big fan of Last.fm myself, the first thing I decided to do was go into the preferences to setup scrobbling by giving the app my account information. But you don’t need to do that, you can just jump into the stations.
The app itself is pretty simple. There isn’t much to see or do in it. On the top bar is where you have the drop-down menu that allows you to switch between the supported services. The main frame is pretty big, and it is where you are shown the interface of the stations that you use, once you select them. That’s about it, the app doesn’t do much for itself; think about it as an easier way of accessing your favorite radio from your desktop.
Once you select a service from the top bar, on the main window the main page of the service’s website will start loading. Musicality supports Last.fm, Pandora and Grooveshark, all of which are the main radio services in the United States. There is, however, no support for Spotify.
Basically, you are getting the exact same experience as you do in your browser. So, you aren’t exactly getting a custom interface where you can interact with all those services at the same time; you are just getting an app that is able of running those from your desktop, sort of.
Of course, there are plenty of things that I expected this app to be, but it just falls short. I really wanted it to be a simpler way of accessing and bookmarking playlists or anything like that from different types of services. I wanted it to be a real way of merging and using all of these 3 great services, but perhaps that is too much too ask, as I’ve never seen it done in an app.
As for the reasonable expectations, I expected to see some sort of custom interface that just interacted with the API of all the services, not that just ran their web interfaces inside the app. It really doesn’t make much of a difference if you are running something here or in Musicality like this. Or does it?
Why Get It?
So then, what’s the advantage of this app? Why should you buy it? At first, it was a bit disappointing finding out that the app is just a fancy way of running the Last.fm website or the Pandora website on your desktop, but then I thought of the real advantages that the app gives you. For example, you can use Last.fm scrobbling with any of the supported services (Scrobbling and Pandora is a great duo!). You can also use the media buttons on your keyboard (if you have them) to manipulate the app, and you can even customize your own keyboard shortcuts.
There’s also support for Growl, which is way more handy than you can imagine. When I’m listening to my recommendations radio, I don’t have to switch to the app to know who’s playing, as Growl does that for me. It also works with the Apple Remote, so you can manipulate the app with it. But the main thing is the ability to run internet radio stations without having them open on your browser. With Musicality, you can just open up any radio station, close the window of the app and forget about it; you don’t even have to open the app window to manipulate the station.
I guess the big question here is, is it worth $6 dollars? For some, yes. As I mentioned earlier, I’m an avid Last.fm user, and I also use Grooveshark for sharing and discovering playlists. I would have no problem paying $6 dollars for an app that lets me run them through my desktop with keyboard shortcuts and all.
In fact, Musicality reminds me a lot of Mailplane, a Gmail app that we’ve featured before. It also is just an easier way of accessing the Gmail interface from your desktop, and we haven’t heard good feedback from you guys the times that we’ve featured it on our roundups.
But it’s up to you. What do you think? Is this app providing an awesome service or is it a glorified Fluid instance? Would you pay $6 dollars for it? What is your take on these type of apps that basically just let you access the web interface of a site and charge you for it?