Pandora for iOS review: Veteran music-streaming app gets better

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The Good Pandora for iOS lets you create music stations on your iPhone based on artists or genres and skips less with improved buffering.

The Bad Ads in the free version can be really distracting. In some cases you'll need to listen to 30-second spots before you can return to your music.

The Bottom Line Pandora is an excellent app for listening to and discovering new music, and, with new features being added regularly, most users will probably keep it as their main streaming service.


8.5 Overall
  • Setup 10
  • Features 8
  • Interface 9
  • Performance 8

Review Sections

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.

The newest version of Pandora Radio for iOS improves playback buffering to better prevent music stoppages and lets you use all the URLs you can on the Web site. The improvements to the app are probably in response to the impending launch of iTunes Radio to keep users listening to streams on Pandora instead of jumping ship.

Just like the Web-based version of the service, the Pandora app lets you tap into an incredible library of music to create stations of similar artists and songs using an algorithm based on the Music Genome Project. You can browse through genre-based stations, or fire up a QuickMix. 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.

As you listen, Pandora lets you rate tracks up or down, or skip tracks at will. Your ratings will help Pandora home in on exactly the types of music you like, so it's important to be an active listener. If you're a lazier listener, you can just as easily let Pandora do all of the programming on its own and skip when you come to a song you don't like. Just don't expect the app to get much better at doing its job. If you hear something you like, you can bookmark the track or artist for future reference. Some tracks let you buy the current song on iTunes right from the app, something iTunes Radio inevitably will have as a standard feature for all songs.

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