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Tell the world what you're listening to

Cardinal and Serenade are two iPhone apps that post your currently playing song to Facebook and Twitter.

I must not be part of the "always connected" generation that marketers talk about. Of course I'm on Facebook and Twitter, but whenever I post anything personal, I can't quite shake the little voice in my head saying "who cares?" Nonetheless, I sometimes like to turn people on to music that I've just discovered, like The Fresh and Onlys, who played a good show in Seattle last night.

Cardinal is well designed and looks good, but is it worth $1.99? Screenshot

An iPhone app called Cardinal, released in March, can help. (It also works with the iPod Touch if you've got an active Wi-Fi connection.) Whenever you stumble across a song on your iPhone that you want to share with the world, Cardinal lets you create messages like "Listening to...," and automatically fills in the song and album title. Then you can post these messages to Facebook and Twitter with a few clicks. You can also select a favorite canned message, and as long as you have Cardinal open, you can simply shake your device and the app will fill in the appropriate song and artist info and post the resulting message automatically--no clicks required. A planned update coming soon will automatically add hash tags such as #musicmonday and #nowplaying to messages if you have enough character space left in Twitter.

Cardinal is well-designed, looks good, and works exactly as advertised. The only problem is the $1.99 price. That's not expensive, but an iPhone app called Serenade, which came out earlier this year, does more or less the same thing for free. Serenade also lets you copy and paste song information into an e-mail message, control music playback, add songs from your iTunes library from within the app, and display lyrics. The posting process is a bit more complicated than Cardinal's--every time you post to Facebook, a screen pops up asking you to edit your message and confirm that you want to post it--but that's a minor annoyance. I'm not sure the shake-to-post feature of Cardinal is worth $1.99.