In what is perhaps Slacker's first step in offering its music service on third-party devices, the company has partnered with RIM to bring a mobile Slacker application to RIM's line of BlackBerry smartphones. The app, which will be available in October for free, will essentially turn the mobile device into a Slacker Portable Player--it works in largely the same way as the firmware on the player. More details after the jump.
The first step is to log onto the Slacker Personal Radio Web site and create a list of favorite stations from more than 100 professionally programmed options, which range from dance and hip-hop to gospel and comedy. You can also save any of the more than 10,000 artist-based stations as well as create your own custom stations using a blend of artists. You can then select up to 40 of your saved stations for transferring to the BlackBerry (the number of stations/songs depends on the device's memory card). Then, you'll need to connect the device to sync your favorites over USB. However, that could be the only time you ever need a hardwire connection to Slacker, depending on how often you want to swap out the actual channels.
Once your stations are saved on the device, getting new music is a completely wireless process. If you get sick of any channel's rotation, a few easy clicks will allow you to refresh the station over Wi-Fi or your cellular network. The new songs are then cached in the BlackBerry's memory so you can listen to the new music without keeping an open connection--and without having to reconnect to your computer. There is also an option to stream stations that are not saved on the device; again, either Wi-Fi or the cell network will suffice for this feature, though Wi-Fi will likely offer a more hiccup-free streaming experience.
As with the Slacker Web service and device, the BlackBerry app will feature Heart and Ban buttons (in the form of onscreen soft keys). Users will have the option to pause playback and skip tracks, but will not be able to reverse through the playlist. Best of all, the service continues to be completely free--paid for by a reasonably limited smattering of audio and visual ads--unless you elect to pay $7.50 for the Premium service, which does away with the ads and skip limits, and adds the ability to save songs in your library. Hopefully, this announcement is just a glimpse of things to come from Slacker.