If you're not a Pandora One subscriber, then be prepared for a lot of display ads. Some are pop-ups that almost completely cover the album art, while others take up the whole screen for a full 30-second commercial with audio -- obviously very distracting. If you usually just fire up a station and put your phone in your pocket, pop-up ads won't be a problem, but you'll still hear the commercials. At the time of this review, Pandora will let you get rid of the ads by paying $3.99 a month for a subscription.
In the last major update, Pandora got a face-lift, making the interface more streamlined than those in previous versions. Touching the album art during playback minimizes the cover, revealing the artist bio, track information, and even lyrics in some cases. It also lets you swipe up from the bottom of the screen to pull up a nifty volume slider and a song progress timer. The overall look is much more streamlined, and now it appears the folks at Pandora are improving the app under the hood.
With the latest update, Pandora has increased the buffer size so more music is stored on your phone ahead of time to avoid stutters when you have a weak connection. The app also now lets you use all the embedded URLs you can use on the Web site, letting you quickly browse from page to page.
It's tough to say whether users will start leaving Pandora for iTunes Radio once it is released, but the Pandora app for iOS continues to improve with interface enhancements and new features for sharing and controlling your stations. It's true the ads can get pretty distracting, especially when interacting with the app, but for continuous listening it's still a solid music discovery tool.