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Slacker Radio for iOS review: Slacker is no slouch for streaming audio

If you're looking for a streaming-music alternative, Slacker Radio is a solid choice, but if you're willing to spend money on a subscription, the app is better than most in its genre.

Jason Parker Senior Editor / Reviews - Software
Jason Parker has been at CNET for nearly 15 years. He is the senior editor in charge of iOS software and has become an expert reviewer of the software that runs on each new Apple device. He now spends most of his time covering Apple iOS releases and third-party apps.
Jason Parker
3 min read

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.


Slacker Radio for iOS

The Good

A new interface for <b>Slacker Radio</b> makes it easy to get to the streaming content you're looking for quickly. New My Vibe feature can match playlists to your current activity or mood.

The Bad

The subscription gives you more features, such as on-demand music, but the pricing might keep people from taking the plunge. Ads in the free version are intrusive.

The Bottom Line

If you're looking for a streaming-music alternative, Slacker Radio is a good choice. But if you're willing to spend money on a subscription, the app is better than most in its genre.

Slacker Radio is a great option for listening to streaming radio with an intuitive interface that makes it easy to find what you want quickly. To use Slacker you must sign up for an account or log in with your Facebook or Google+ credentials.

After logging in, Slacker's interface gives you several options for launching stations. You can search for artists using a field at the top, check out the Music Guide curated by Slacker, or search by genres, stations you've previously listened to, specialty stations, or news, talk, and sports stations. Each selection on the first screen leads to another list where you can swipe to browse selections to find the stations, genres, and music you want to listen to.

Slacker gets yet another new look (pictures)

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While playing a track, Slacker lets you look at both album art as well as artist bios and album reviews (for most songs and artists). The controls to pause, skip, save, and remove an artist from your playlist are located at the bottom of the interface. You'll be able to fine-tune your station requirements while it plays as well as create custom stations. A skip button is available for moving on to the next song, but you get limited skips per session (only six at the time of this review).

Much like Pandora, the free version of Slacker Radio is ad-supported and lets you search for a song and then create a station of similar music based on that song. The ads can be a little annoying, with full 30-second commercial spots at the beginning of listening to a station. If you want to take advantage of playlist caching or music-on-demand features without ads, you'll need to sign up for a subscription. With Slacker Radio Plus ($3.99 per month), you'll be able to save station caches for later listening even when offline. With a Slacker Premium subscription ($9.99/month), you'll get on-demand music listening so you can search for and listen to the exact songs and albums you want (similar to Spotify). Both subscription packages also come with lyrics for most songs.

New to Slacker's arsenal and available to all users is a nifty feature called My Vibe, which helps you find the perfect playlist to match your mood or activity. Similar to Songza, My Vibe starts by offering you a few suggestions based on the current day and time. From there, it gives you a menu of options that may or may not match your activity or mood. For instance, as I write this, I'm listening to a playlist that was suggested for someone who is working in the office on a Friday afternoon. So far, My Vibe seems to have fewer playlist suggestions than Songza. But still, the feature is nice addition to Slacker's fast-growing tool belt.

Slacker Radio is a solid choice for streaming music with an enormous music library, and even with just the free app, you can create and listen to radio stations of your favorite genres of music. Though the upgraded services are good, the price might be the most difficult thing to swallow for most users. Still, if you want a new streaming-radio option, Slacker is a great choice.


Slacker Radio for iOS

Score Breakdown

Setup 8Features 7Interface 8Performance 9