Available at: Apple App Store, Google Play
Music streaming apps continue to proliferate, making their value in the car really depend on how you like to listen to music or talk radio while behind the wheel. Songza is a (mostly) ad-free music streamer that is free to download, but is more notable for the fact that it does almost all the legwork for you.
In that regard, Songza is ideal for the car, especially since you can stream it over 3G or LTE. Rather than offer up an interface that forces you to constantly interact with the app, you get to choose what you want to listen based on the time of day or what mood you’re in.
Dubbed the “music concierge,” it gives you six options that can be anything from “Working (no lyrics)” to “Evening Commute.” Choosing one offers you a set of filters to narrow it down further, like “Driving with Kids” or “Left-lane Driving,” for example. Tap any one of these and three playlists based on specific themes, genres or eras show up.
If it’s a Tuesday evening, but for whatever reason, you feel like it’s a Friday night, you can toggle the day and time to give you a different set of options, filters and playlists. Once you press play on the playlist, it just keeps going. It’s not like a 20-song playlist that loops. There could be dozens or hundreds of songs in any given playlist. You can also skip forward one track at a time.
When you get to that playback button, tap the star icon to save the playlist to your Favourites, and even set a sleep timer in case you want to use it as your alarm to wake up. Or, set it up for when you hit the road to go to work. The days and times you want are up to you to decide.
Songza remembers recent playlists you listened to and puts them under My Playlists next to your Favourites. What this amounts to is a playlist of playlists, so to speak. Fill up your Favourites with the ones you like the most and they’re always there for you to use with only a few taps. I found this to be a really convenient way to play music without really thinking too much about what I wanted to listen to. Plus, it proved to have the residual effect of being a music discovery tool.
The Popular tab presents featured, trending and all-time lists, so you can peruse those for whatever suits your musical tastes. The Explore tab is arguably the deepest because the filtering process requires time to engage and wade through. It’s certainly not tedious, and doesn’t require that much patience, but can take time when you start to notice just how much content is available.
And that’s an apt description of what Songza is all about. There’s a lot of customization, and yet much of it is automatic in a way that differs from other streaming services. Play around with it before you go for a drive, and you’ll notice it, too.