Recently the folks over at Grooveshark reached out and gave me some love in the form of a free VIP membership to Grooveshark Anywhere, the premium version of their very popular platform. I’ve been testing it for about three weeks now. Is it worth shelling out your cold hard cash even though the free version is well, free? Read on to find out.
The Mobile Version Of Grooveshark is available at http://m.grooveshark.com/
Grooveshark Anywhere allows you to access Grooveshark from a number of different devices, most notably from an Android phone, for about $10 per month. It also allows you to use the Grooveshark Desktop Client on your Mac or PC so you don’t have to watch the random YouTube video before streaming your music. This review deals with the Grooveshark Android App
After 3 weeks of using the application on my phone (HTC One X), it’s been a mostly positive experience, but not without hiccups…
Grooveshark Android Review
The Grooveshark Android interface is cleanly laid out and very self explanatory. The fact that there’s not much to say about, is in itself praise to the Grooveshark designers. You know what everything is and how it works without having to learn.
I’m a picky bastard when it comes to my music. I listen to it all day long, so having to put up with bad quality can ruin my experience. Fortunately, this is not the case on the Grooveshark app. In the setttings menu you have the option to stream high quality files. You can choose if you want this on all the time or only on wifi.
I tried the feature using my phone’s 3G connection (1mb line) and the results where great. Crisp, clear audio with detailed midsections and full low end.
Ease of Use
Overall this is a very easy app to use. Select a playlist and then hit play, it’s that simple. The radio feature allows you to choose a station based on genre and then let it play. Popular is just that – music other Grooveshark users think is good (the results are scary, so I don’t use this).
You can access songs you’ve added your collection or your favourites using the icons on the main menu, all with no trouble.
One of the major selling points for GSA is that it allows you to choose which songs you would like to save on your device to be accessed in offline mode. You’re able to select individual song or grab an entire playlist in one go.
In the app settings you can choose how much space you want to assign to Offline songs, so you won’t need to worry about Grooveshark Anywhere chomping through more memory than you’re comfortable with. Because the HTC One X doesn’t have an SD card slot, I wasn’t able to test if the file location can be specified.
Obviously, stations and sharing are not available in offline mode, along with any music that you have not saved to your phone.
Offline mode is the major source of my frustration. When downloading a playlist to Offline mode and then listening back , songs would frequently stop playing or not start to play at all. The App would then pause for a while and jump back to the first song in the list.
This happened pretty much all of the time I used the offline feature, so it got quite annoying. When GS released an update for the app. (2.7.1) the annoyance dropped to about 20%, but didn’t disappear.
Another annoying bug is that sometimes the next song in a playlist would load but not play. This means I have to take the phone out of my pocket and hit play a couple of times during a playlist. This becomes a real pain in the ass when docking your phone and loading a playlist, only to have to walk over and hit play every couple of songs. Hopefully this is an easy fix and something that can be rectified in a future update.
Another small but niggling problem is the long delay between songs in offline mode. Sometimes the delay would be as much as 5 seconds between songs. This isn’t an eternity, but because of the problem mentioned above, I kept checking my phone to see if there was a problem with the playlist. A couple of times there was in fact a problem. Even when there was a hint of a problem, I started to get annoyed thinking that the list had stopped again.
Update: Apparently these are HTC issues and the Grooveshark team is working on it.
Other things to like
Caching of recently played songs and album artwork – this is a nifty feature that saves the most recently played songs as well as album covers on your phone so that GS doesn’t need to load it every time.
LastFM Scrobbling – just like the Grooveshark desktop player, the Anywhere app will log the music you play with Last FM so you can access them later and see exactly what you’ve been listening to (for no good reason).
Media Button Reponse – the app responded to the controls on both the stock HTC headset as well as my ZAGG smartbuds. There’s a teeensy bit of lag, but nothing to get worked up.
Even though the bugs in Grooveshark really bug me, it turns out they weren’t dealbreakers. I haven’t used my iPod since I started using this Grooveshark Anywhere App, which is a win for me since I now have less thing to carry around (it also helps me rationalize how much I spent on my phone) .
I think that with a few bug updates and fixes, this will prove to be an amazing app, but until then you’ll need to settle for pretty damned good. Is it worth your $9,99? I think it is.
There are still somethings that would be nice to see in the Grooveshark Android Client
- Edit playlists (specifically removing unwanted songs from a playlist)
- Share Playlist with another Grooveshark user
After Jessica mentioned that the issues I was experiencing might be unique to HTC phones, I took the Grooveshark app for another test on a Samsung Galaxy S. So far, the offline issues have not presented themselves, but there is still a fair amount of lag between songs in Offline mode.
Footnote: This review was done on Grooveshark App version 2.7 and 2.7.1 using a 2012 HTC One X and a 1MB 3G connection to access the internet.