AudioVroom began as a nifty streaming app for iPhone, conceived over a 24-hour period at a Music Hack Day event. The iPhone version bundles social playlist suggestions with game mechanics — you earn listening credit by making friends and sharing playlists.
This week, AudioVroom launched a web app that takes advantage of HTML 5 and Facebook’s flexible app platform, so you can try it without Apple iOS. It takes a more familiar approach than the iPhone version, which is to a great extent about “bumping” devices to create collaborative stations and earning points.
The new AudioVroom won’t appear among your Facebook apps on an iOS device, but the web app is accessible from your mobile browser on iOS or Android — though devices running iOS5 may experience server load issues as a result of “http pipelining” in the new operating system. (Http pipelining allows multiple server requests to be sent before receiving a reply, theoretically shortening page load time, but can cause issues on the response end when it comes to streaming.)
Like most streaming apps, AudioVroom.com and the nearly-identical Facebook-embedded version pictured to the right let you make playlists based around any artist with the search box at the upper right.
It also creates a personalized station unique to you based on your Facebook likes and ratings within the service — Love, Fail, or a third option, WTF? You can share your station with specific Facebook friends, and they can message you as they listen. (AudioVroom creates playlists using technology from The Echo Nest, publisher of Evolver.fm, and gets its music from 7digital).
We appreciate AudioVroom’s approach to social music, which lets you send friends messages when you listen to their personal playlists and streams all of your listening activity to Facebook.
But new playlists take a while to load, and it takes way, way too long to load the next song when you skip — something other services solve by pre-caching the next track. Audiovroom does the next-best thing, by continuing to play the skipped track as the next one loads (five seconds of dead air would be much more jarring). Still, when Smashing Pumpkins’ “Disarm” comes on and I’m powerless to click away before Billy Corgan starts whining about being a little boy, we have a problem. (Update: Buffering was recently rolled out for the Facebook and Browser apps, significantly reducing the lag time when loading/skipping tracks, though this is not supported in the iOS browser.)
We threw AudioVroom a curveball to test the artist stations: comedian Ben Bailey, the host of the Discovery Channel game-show Cash Cab, who doesn’t even play music. Even with this non-musical artist, AudioVroom put together a cohesive comedy playlist, if such a thing exists, by suggested a string of what it felt (and I’d agree) to be similar comedians, by age and comedic style.
For the most part, the music stations did well too. During the entirety of my testing I skipped only three tracks; Loved two or three more; Failed no tracks (which banishes them from the playlist, although, frustratingly, it continues to play until you hit Skip); and issued only one WTF (which sends AudioVroom a subtle hint that the track may not be the best fit in a given playlist).
My sole WTF rating: As a life-long Nirvana fan. I was pleased to see a featured station based on their song “Polly,” the first song I learned to play. The third track on that station, Coldplay’s “The Scientist,” should probably never be on a Nirvana playlist.
That’s just the nature of the beast, regardless of what streaming service you use, and Love-Fail rankings and listening habits fine tune that stuff over time. However, those ratings get automatically shared to Facebook, so if you’re squeamish about sharing your habits online, you won’t be able to rate anything.
Most picks were on-point — sometimes scarily so. “Semi-Charmed Life” was a throwback favorite from my pop radio days, and I’m still baffled with how AudioVroom knew about my secret soft spot for “Crash Into Me” by Dave Matthews [ed. note: the editor disagrees violently with this selection], something I’d be hesitant to admit to even the most trustworthy computer.
Ultimately, as wrong as it felt hearing Coldplay’s “The Scientist” in my Nirvana queue, I still listened to the whole track, maybe because I hadn’t heard it in a while. Maybe AudioVroom knows me a little better than I thought.