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New Pandora app woos Android tablets as Apple radio grows

The top online radio company rolls out a new version of its Android app designed specifically for tablets, tweaking it for bigger screens with more functions.


Pandora is getting friendlier with Android tablet users on the heels of now-rival Apple touting the traction of iTunes Radio.

Pandora, the Internet's biggest radio service, on Wednesday rolled out a new version of its Android app designed specifically for tablets. The interface takes advantage of bigger screens and has upgraded functions, like the ability to add variety to a station and view more details about the artist and album.

Many of the features mimic what the company's dedicated iPad app can do. When it launched the iPad version, Pandora said it was planning an Android tablet app for the fall.

Android's domination of the tablet market is quickly on its way to join the Google OS' command of the smartphone realm. After Apple introduced the iPad in 2010, it sold more than three quarters of all tablets by the end of that year, according to IDC. By the end of last year, that share dropped below half and by the end of this year, Android should make up about 60 percent of all tablets in the market, according to IDC's estimates.

(Android has accumulated 80 percent of the world's smartphone share at IDC's last count.)

So it makes sense that Pandora would want to cozy up to Android tablet users.

Pandora has long credited its early presence on iPhones and iPads as a key reason it broke away from the pack as the leader in online radio. But Apple became a competitor in addition to being a partner in September with the launch of iTunes Radio, its own long-awaited radio service.

Last week, Apple revealed that iTunes Radio has reached 20 million users listening in to a billion songs. That follows the company netting more than 11 million unique listeners in the service's first five days. Pandora has about 72.7 million monthly active listeners.

As data about iTunes Radio has emerged, some analysts have crunched the numbers to conclude the negative impact on Pandora has been minimal. A B. Riley analyst determined that iTunes Radio listeners spend 75 percent less time on service than listeners of Pandora, and a Canaccord survey found almost all respondents who had tried iTunes Radio said they still use Pandora: 92 percent.

The clearest picture yet of iTunes Radio's effect on Pandora will come early next month when Pandora releases its monthly listener metrics. The numbers for October will be the first month that iTunes and Pandora have coexisted the entire time.