Hands-on with Imeem Mobile for iPhone

CNET's Donald Bell offers his hands-on impressions of the Imeem Mobile streaming music application for the Apple iPhone and iPod Touch.

Imeem logo

The music discovery Web site imeem.com officially launched its very own iPhone app on Thursday, May 14. Imeem's app is free and bears a resemblance to similar offerings from Pandora, Last.fm, and Slacker, offering the ability to stream, search, and purchase music over Wi-Fi or cellular connections.

But before you write off the Imeem app (download) as some late-arriving Last.fm wannabe, there's one killer feature to be aware of: cloud storage. Apps like Last.fm will go so far as to create personalized radio stations based on a random selection of songs from your collection, but the Imeem app allows you to call up any song or album in your collection and play it without the restrictions associated with most services (i.e. limited skips, and the inability to play songs from the same artist back-to-back).


In order to stream music from your personal collection, you first need to upload your music to imeem.com from your desktop using its free Mac/PC-compatible client. Now before you go thinking that you can upload that 300GB iTunes library to Imeem and stream it anywhere in the world, there's a catch. Imeem won't charge you for the first 100 songs you upload to the site, but anything more than that will require a VIP service ($29.99 per year for up to 1,000 songs, or $99.99 per year for up to 20,000).

Beyond the appeal of streaming your music collection form the cloud, the rest of the Imeem application falls somewhere between the simplicity of the Pandora app, and the more personalized, social approach of Last.fm. The main menu screen offers a selection of top-ranked songs from Imeem.com, personalized listening recommendations, and a rotating selection of curated content (URB magazine's "Next 100," for example).

The playback screen is very similar to Slacker, with like/dislike, play, and skip controls. Option buttons pull up artist bio information and quick links to "Favorite" the artist or song, e-mail it to a friend, or purchase the song from iTunes.

You won't find detailed information on artist tour dates or listening data from your social network, unlike the Last.fm app, nor is there an adjustable audio quality setting like the one found on Pandora. Still, for a free music App, Imeem strikes good balance of features and audio quality, and certainly please existing fans of Imeem.

To take a closer look at the Imeem App for iPhone, click through our slideshow . For another opinion, read Matt Rosof's take on CNET's Digital Noise blog .

(Disclaimer: Last.fm is owned by CNET's parent company, CBS.)

 

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