No matter how much music you have on your iPhone or iPod Touch, sometimes you get bored with it or just want somebody else to drive.
That's the appeal of apps like Pandora and Slacker, which build personalized radio stations based on a particular artist, then let you customize those stations to various degrees.
A new app called Effin Genius, from Seattle company Melodeo, takes a different approach: instead of forcing you to enter the name of an artist or musical genre--or anything at all--Effin Genius analyzes the playlists in the iTunes library on your iPhone or iPod Touch, then creates identically named playlists of other music it thinks you would like.
I tried it out last night. It took about 10 minutes to analyze the 3,000-plus songs on my Touch, but once the process was done, it came up with some pretty amazing playlists. For example, I have an playlist called "Psych," which contains rock and jazz songs that are a little noisy or abrasive, but not completely insane. For the most part, Effin Genius looked at the artists in that playlist and recommended other songs by them. The new Can and My Bloody Valentine songs alone made it worth listening to. Other good picks included guitar goddess Marnie Stern, a freak-folk song by Helio Sequence, and the always reliable Kings of Leon, none of which I own. If you really love a particular song, there's a link to buy it on iTunes.
Unfortunately it also included some horrible rap and hip-hop--including, hilariously, "U Can't Touch This" by Hammer--and '80s pop hits from Def Leppard and George Michael. I don't have those artists, or anybody like them, on this playlist, although I do have some Police and other '80s pop elsewhere on my iPod. Of course, any time a song comes up that you don't like, you can skip it and tell the app never to play it again. Presumably, Effin Genius learns more about your preferences over time and adjusts accordingly.
As is the case with other radio apps for iPhone, you can't go straight to a particular song on the playlist--you must listen in the order the songs are delivered--and you need an active Internet connection. The streaming worked great over my home Wi-Fi network.
Effin Genius, whose name is a take-off on the Genius feature introduced in iTunes 8, costs $1.99. That's not much, but it's more than Pandora and Slacker, which are free.
Overall, Effin Genius is an interesting take on the problem of what to do when you're bored with your own music collection. But I'll have to play with it a little more before I decide whether to remove Pandora.