Rdio rolls out its new design to free users

A few months back, music streaming service Rdio launched a new interface for it's subscribers. As of yesterday evening free users will also have access to the new Rdio.

So what's different? Well I'm going to be perfectly frank. As a Rdio subscriber I've been using the new interface since March and honestly it's hard to recall what the limitations of the old version were! I actually created a new account to refresh my memory of how things used to be.

Honestly the old Rdio UI wasn't terrible, but the new one just feels bigger, bolder and better designed to help you discover new music. Album cover thumbnails are larger and in the socially-driven areas like Heavy Rotation you can easily see who has been playing that particular music in order to put it into Heavy Rotation.

One of my favorite parts of the new Rdio is how easy it is to create playlists. You just click on New Playlist, name it, and then drag and drop songs or albums to it. To rearrange songs in a list, again, just drag and drop them. You can still do things the old way if you like, adding songs to a playlist from a dropdown menu found on each song listing.

One of the other things I really like about Rdio (and this isn't new to this version) is that you can sign up for an account without using Facebook. Spotify, which I assume is Rdio's largest competitor, requires a Facebook account. Nasty policy.

The only thing that Rdio doesn't have is a personal rating system and recommendation engine. What you see in your "Heavy Rotation" list is supposed to be based on both what you listen to and what your friends listen to, but I'd feel better being able to give a 'Thumbs Down' to music I dislike, preventing it from showing up in Heavy Rotation in future. Similarly let me give music a 'Thumbs Up' to weight it more heavily in Rdio's recommendations for me.

That said, I always seem to find something new to listen to when I'm in the mood for something new, and when I'm not, "My Collection" gives me fast access to the music I love.

Rdio offers free web accounts with no ads. (The amount of music you can listen to in the free tier is limited but exactly how much time you get isn't really clear; you have a gauge showing how much music you have left but no metrics attached to it.) You can sign-up for a web-only account for $4.99/month, an Unlimited account (web and mobile devices) for $9.99/month or bundle Unlimited accounts into Family accounts for $17.99 (2 accounts) or $22.99 (3 accounts).

Read more of Peter Smith's TechnoFile blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Peter on Twitter at @pasmith. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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