Editors' note, July 8, 2015: See CNET's guide to Internet radio services for a more up-to-date evaluation of this service, along with an analysis of how it compares to competitors.
When you don't want to decide exactly what song to listen to, Pandora's got you coverage. The popular online music service lets you create custom radio stations based on genres of music, artists, music albums, and even specific songs.
Just like the original Web-based version, Pandora Radio for Android lets you tap into an incredible library of music to create stations based on artists or songs, browse through genre-based stations, or fire up a shuffled playlist based on your listening history. If you're already a Pandora listener, you can enter your existing log-in credentials, or you can create a new account right from the app.
The Pandora Android app sports a clean design, tons of social features, and your user profile, which keeps tabs on your listening history. In a recent update in December 2013, the app added an alarm clock so you can wake up to your favorite Pandora stations instead of the same old screeching tones of your phone's alarm clock.
To get started with Pandora, create a few stations based on your favorite kinds of music. You can create stations centered around your favorite artists, or even just one song you like. Pandora then searches for music that matches the same melodies, themes, and instruments to create a full station. You can fine tune your stations by adding variety. For example, if you create a Rolling Stones station, you can add Led Zeppelin or "Light My Fire" by The Doors to add more nuance.
As you listen, Pandora lets you rate tracks up or down, or skip tracks at will. Your ratings here will help Pandora home in on exactly the types of music you like, so it's important to be an active listener. This ability to "understand" your musical taste is really the service's biggest strength. On the other hand, if you're a lazier listener, then you can just as easily let Pandora do all of the programming on its own. Just don't expect it to get much better at doing its job. If you hear something you like, you can bookmark the track or artist for future reference. You can even purchase some tracks right from the app.
You can share what you're listening to via e-mail, Twitter, and Facebook, or simply post your track to your Pandora profile, which tracks your listening activity. Pandora profiles keep track of songs you Bookmark and Like. What's more, they add another social element to the listening experience, as they enable other users to see what you're listening to (if you make your profile public), and you to see what they're listening to. You can even "follow" other users and get updates when they do things like create new stations. Altogether, it's a fantastic way of discovering new music.