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Thumbplay comes to iPhone

Thumbplay is the first music subscription service to be available on the top three phone platforms in the U.S.: the iPhone, BlackBerry, and Android.

Thumbplay Music launched an iPhone version of its music subscription service on Tuesday, making it the first such service available for the top three mobile-phone platforms in the United States: iPhone, Android, and BlackBerry.

Thumbplay created this playlist based on The Velvet Underground's "Sweet Jane." Screenshot

I gave it a quick run-through on Tuesday morning, and it looks like Thumbplay has dramatically improved its service and desktop app since I tried the beta version on BlackBerry in March. The search engine works perfectly now, and some of the catalog gaps appear to have been filled, such as the full catalog of She and Him. I only had a couple of "misses" in about 40 searches--there's no Led Zeppelin, and the excellent new album "Swim" by Caribou was missing. (Rhapsody wins here--it's got both.)

My favorite feature of the BlackBerry app, Autoplaylist, which builds a playlist based on a single song, has been renamed: it's called Playlist Genie, and you can access it by holding your finger down (long tap) anywhere on the screen while the desired "seed song" is playing. It's a fantastic way to discover music--imagine Pandora, but with editable playlists that you can begin and end playing at any point. And I haven't gotten any sort of "not enough information about this song" error that I often get when trying to use the similar Genius function on my iPhone playlist.

I was also impressed with the sync process. The iPhone app picked up all the playlists I'd created when using the BlackBerry app three months ago, and playlists created on my phone showed up the next time I launched the desktop app. This is how cloud services are supposed to work.

There is one notable feature gap between the iPhone and BlackBerry versions of the service--offline playback isn't available for the iPhone version, but the company says it's coming soon. Also, while Thumbplay now lets you delete old playlists, you have to use the desktop app to do it--you can't delete them directly from the phone.

The desktop and iPhone apps are both available as free downloads, and you can try the service for three days at no charge; after that, it costs $9.99 a month.