Streaming music to a mobile device is just starting to be both feasible and desireable. The ability to stream a huge catalog of songs right to your smartphone at any time, for a small monthly fee, is really enticing. You can forget about storage space, or remembering to sync everything you might want to listen to while you're out. And for the price of one album per month, you get access to millions of songs.
Rhapsody and Spotify are the two major players in this world. Rhapsody is established here in the States, while nobody seems to know when Spotify will hit our shores. Microsoft's Zune will offer some similar features, but won't be available until the release of Windows Phone 7 in the fall. And nobody's sure when Apple will launch an iTunes streaming service. Now there's a new player: MOG.
I tested out MOG's new app, available for iPhone and Android today. I tried the Android version on a Motorola Droid—not the speediest phone out there, but it's certainly the most popular Android phone, making it a decent test subject.
MOG's app is free, but the service is $9.99 per month. That fee gives access to the entire catalog, allowing for both unlimited streaming and unlimited downloading. The downloading is a really nice feature: Even on Verizon's excellent 3G network here in San Francisco, there are places I can't snag a signal, like while underground on a BART train. Downloading allows you to play back songs regardless of whether you have service—a boon to customers on less reliable networks—and in better quality, to boot. MOG allows downloading in quality up to 320kbps mp3 files—about as good as you could ask for, short of ludicrously large lossless files.
The catalog is nice and big, able to find a whole lot of semi-obscure stuff (including a nice range of singles and live albums) as well as just about all of the big names I threw at it (excluding a certain Liverpudlian foursome). Sound quality was surprisingly excellent, especially played through the Droid's so-so sound chip. There are some nice features like a Pandora-esque radio, which lets you choose to play songs by all the same artist or mostly different artists—a nice touch, though due to a sometimes uninspired song choice it's not going to replace Pandora for me.
There are some problems with the app. It's a bit slow on my (admittedly last-gen, but still less than a year old) Droid, and force-closed on me a few times. It's mostly easy to use, but it's lacking a clear Now Playing screen, and, for some reason, you can't fast forward or rewind through tracks. It relies heavily on a playlist metaphor—you either "add to playlist" or play now, when browsing music—but the playlist can't be edited for order. A "play next" button, at the least, would be nice.
And, of course, there's the one problem with all subscription music sites: stop paying, and that music is no longer yours. There's nothing MOG can do about that, but it's worth considering if you're thinking about signing up.
All in all I'm pretty impressed with MOG. The sheer ability to play any song from a massive library, wherever you are, never gets old. And I think $10 a month is perfectly fair. You can give it a try to see what you think—MOG's offering a free 3-day trial (you don't even need to enter a credit card), and I'd definitely suggest checking it out.
[Image credit: CNET]