Aupeo review: great music, disappointing app

Jun 1, 2011

Aupeo, a Pandora-like music streaming service, has just rolled out its first smartphone app for iOS and Android devices. Although its wide range of music, genres, subgenres, and preference-tuning features are impressive, Aupeo’s eye-candy-rich smartphone app is frustrating to use.

In designing its smartphone app, Aupeo appears to have traded off ease-of-use in favor of cool, stylish looks. Navigating around via various swipes and taps feels a bit like stumbling blindfolded through a maze.

How, for example, do you dismiss the large pop-up google ad that covers most of the display? (See screenshot at right; click to enlarge.)

Perhaps I’ve been spoiled by Pandora’s easy-to-use app or the utter elegance of the iPod Touch itself, but I have little patience for apps without clear, intuitive UIs (user interfaces). The Aupeo app seems more like a restructured version of its PC app, as opposed to being designed specifically for the swipes, taps, and small screens of mini-tablet iOS or Android devices.

Here’s a brief meander through the Aupeo app maze…


(click thumbnails to enlarge)

Aupeo iPod Touch app screenshots
(click thumbnails to enlarge)

Benefits of subscribing

Like Pandora, Aupeo presents you with ads if you don’t subscribe to its “premium” service for a modest monthly fee. That upgrade will set you back $5/month or $50/year. A Pandora subscription currently runs $36 per year. Both services let you listen for free, with ads and certain other limitations (such as limited track/song skipping or a maximum number of streaming hours per month).

In Aupeo’s case, subscribing to the premium service offers the following enhancements:

  • Eliminates advertisements — no more audio or visual ads
  • Allows unlimited skips
  • Adds a bookmarks feature, through which you can save and easily access desired music channels
  • Enables DNA control for each channel, saving song and artist preferences indicated via the “love” and “ban” buttons
  • Upgrades audio quality to 192kbps
  • Supports an unlimited number of hardware devices

The bottom line

From our limited use of Aupeo so far, the music library is extensive and spans a wide variety of genres and subgenres (see screenshots above). Aupeo says its music-streaming service provides over 100 compilation genre channels, thousands of artist channels, and just shy of one million music titles.

The smartphone app, on the other hand, leaves much to be desired in terms of ease of use; hopefully the app’s developers will revamp it to make it more intuitive and touch-screen friendly.

One additional point in Aupeo’s favor, is that whereas Pandora only streams to U.S. locations, Aupeo supports International listeners in over 40 countries and is in the process of adding six more. See the complete list of countries supported in the comments below.

Further info

You can install Aupeo’s smartphone app now from the Apple Store or Android Market. To listen or subscribe from your PC or Mac, go to Aupeo.com. Unlike Pandora, there’s no desktop app for PCs or Macs, but perhaps there’s one in development.
 



PLEASE COMMENT BELOW

3 Responses to “Aupeo review: great music, disappointing app”

  1. Stefan says:

    Valid points w/ regards to usability. But how about comparing Pandora´s availability in other countries??? You can access Aupeo on various devices worldwide!

    • DeviceGuru says:

      Interesting question regarding availability in multiple countries. Aupeo is based in Europe, so it certainly has more of an international (user) orientation than Pandora.

      Aupeo’s music licensing is briefly mentioned in the FAQ on its website, which states: “Through the IFPI, the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, so-called operation requirements for webcasting were created. These allowed Aupeo! Personal Radio to create music use contracts in more than 40 countries.” At this point, it’s not clear whether Aupeo supports streaming to all those 40 countries, or which ones they are, however. The most recent press release on Aupeo’s main website, dated November 2010, said: “Aupeo! currently offers just fewer than one million music titles of every genre, is pre-installed on several million devices (PCs, TVs and Smartphones) and is available in 25 countries.”

      In contrast, from Pandora’s FAQ: “Our music licenses require our listeners to be within the United States, which is why we require your current US zip code during registration. NOTE: This restriction applies to your current location, not your citizenship or national origin. Foreign visitors to the US can listen to Pandora while they are here, but US citizens traveling abroad cannot listen to Pandora from areas not covered by US law. We fervently hope one day we can legally make Pandora available internationally.” (source). Also see: Can I listen to Pandora outside of the United States?; hint: the short answer is “Unfortunately, no.” And there’s also this.

      So Stefan has made a strong point in favor of Aupeo. Let’s hope they improve the iOS and Android apps for small touchscreeen devices sometime soon.

    • DeviceGuru says:

      I just received this update from Aupeo regarding their support for International streaming…

      “According to the agreements of the IFPI members and their definitions for webcasting with interactive elements (customized radio with skip) AUPEO! has effective contracts for 40 countries with authorities like Soundexchange, GVL, PPL a.o.:

      * Europe: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Iceland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Sweden, Slovenia, Spain, United Kingdom

      * Outside Europe:: Argentina, Australia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Hong Kong, Ireland, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Singapur, Thailand, USA, Uruguay

      * With 6 additional countries negotiations are nearly final and will be announced soon.

      In all other regions there are simply no users streaming our service today and we are prepared to contact the collecting societies to license AUPEO! as a customized radio in these regions, as soon as we will have a user base.

      Parallel to this we are working together with the authors societies in these regions based on our business activities & numbers in the specific regions, to pay the royalties backed by law.”