In just a few short years, Pandora's apps for iOS and Android have become an ever-present part of the smartphone experience. But as the company's growth in mobile exploded, its Web-based player was stuck in the past with a design that no longer matched the look of its apps or standalone Pandora One desktop software.
Today, Pandora unveiled a dramatically overhauled site design. Beyond a welcome new look, the code behind the site now uses HTML5 in favor of Adobe Flash. In its own press release, Pandora credits the switch to HTML5 for opening up creative new cross-platform advertising opportunities and allowing for a more flexible overall site design.
From the user perspective, the new design offers a clearer, more consolidated set of persistent controls across the top of the page, as well as larger album art that can be dynamically resized.
A few other features have trickled into the site refresh, including a new "Follow" capability that allows you to selectively share personal stations among imported Facebook friends. Friends followed within Pandora will have their comments and Liked tracks included on a centralized Music Feed (a concept similar to Spotify's feed). Stations will now have their own simplified URLs, making it easier to share them across the Web. A "shuffle" option has also been added to the top of your personal station list, allowing you to randomly hear tracks from each of your stations.
Finally, Pandora has dropped its monthly listening cap for unpaid accounts. Previously, listeners were restricted to 40 hours of streaming per month, unless they opted for a paid, ad-free account.
Pandora's updates come at a time when the company faces mounting competition from Sony Music Unlimited, Spotify, Mog, Rdio, Google Music Beta, and others, who are eager to chip away at Pandora's enviable stake in mobile, car stereos, and the living room.