Pandora will now let Apple Watch users stream music untethered – Blog – 10 minute

Why it matters: As a Spotify subscriber and Apple Watch owner, I am disappointed that there is no way for me to listen to my playlists without being linked to my iPhone. Spotify promised that it would bring me an offline mode, at least. But nada. Now Pandora’s watchOS app, which has had an offline mode for a while, can stream straight from the watch, making me question whether I should switch services.
Pandora has one-upped Spotify with its updated Apple Watch app. The streaming music service quietly released version 2002.1 of its watchOS player, making it completely standalone. That means you can stream music straight from your Apple Watch without having it tethered to your iPhone.
The feature is available for Pandora Premium users. Of course, you also need a WiFi connection unless your Apple Watch is a cellular model.
Prior to version 2002.1, the only way to listen to Pandora music untethered was to download it to the watch. Storage space is ample on newer Apple Watches — 16GB and 32GB for Series 4 and Series 5 respectively — but is still limited depending on how much of that storage is used by the OS and other apps.

Offering standalone streaming opens up the entire Pandora catalog of music and the option of leaving your phone at home. The only other company that provides this feature is Apple itself for Apple Music subscribers. Not even Spotify can do this, even though it should.
Spotify announced its Apple Watch app back in 2018, promising that an offline mode was coming. To this day, the app has neither an offline or a streaming option. The only way to play Spotify music on the Apple Watch untethered is a workaround involving downloading them, converting them to MP3s, then syncing them. So its watch app remains nothing more than a remote for the iPhone’s Spotify player.
In the streaming music wars, Spotify and Apple have been battling the harshest and have received the lion’s share of the headlines. Pandora’s quiet little update might just be its first volley in the war and a significant one at that. The company’s Apple Watch app has clearly surpassed Spotify’s in terms of functionality.

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Pandora debuts a desktop app for Windows – gpgmail


Pandora today is launching a desktop app for Windows users following its debut of a native Mac app earlier this year. On Mac, Pandora offers a variety of features for desktop users, like on-screen notifications, keyboard controls, a way to select listening “modes” and more. It didn’t, however, include support for streaming podcasts. The new Windows app includes a similar feature set.

Update: The Windows Store app description mentions that at higher tiers you can stream podcasts. Pandora tells us this is not actually true of the app itself, however. It plans to support podcasts in the future, it says. We’ve removed references to podcast support from this article.  

Above: Pandora’s Windows 10 app — note references to playing podcasts! 

Like its Mac counterpart, Pandora’s Windows app can be used by both free users and paid subscribers alike.

The free users will have access to Pandora’s ad-supported stations, while Pandora Plus subscribers get ad-free stations, unlimited skips, personalized stations and up to four offline stations. Pandora Premium subscribers, meanwhile, get the same, plus the ability to make and share playlists, play albums and songs on-demand and take advantage of unlimited offline listening.

Also like the Mac app, the Windows version supports keyboard controls for doing things like playing, pausing, replaying, shuffling, thumbs up and down, etc. And it supports the Pandora Modes feature, which lets you refine your personalized stations by asking Pandora to focus more on certain types of songs — like crowd favorites, the discovery of new artists, deep cuts, songs from a select artist only, new releases and more.

Desktop users often prefer to use a native app instead of leaving a service open in a browser tab as it allows them a more seamless and integrated experience. That said, Pandora’s Mac version didn’t have the best reviews from Apple users.

Still, Pandora’s rollout of native desktop apps helps the SiriusXM-owned company better compete with rivals like Apple Music and Spotify, both of which have long offered desktop applications. In Apple’s case, it actually built so much into iTunes that the company decided to finally break it up into parts with the next version of macOS. Pandora doesn’t have the same problem, because it doesn’t include a user library or marketplace.

Windows users can download the Pandora app from the Microsoft Store starting today.

The app works on Windows 10. (Pandora also supports streaming to Xbox via the Microsoft Store app.)


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Pandora now lets you share music and podcasts to your Instagram Stories – gpgmail


Pandora today announced a new integration with Instagram that will allow users to share their favorite music and podcasts to their Instagram Story. The feature comes well over a year after Spotify launched a similar integration with Instagram Stories, and only days after Spotify introduced sharing to Facebook Stories, as well.

In Pandora’s case, accessing the feature is also a quick and easy process — you just tap the “Share” button from the Now Playing screen in the app, then choose “Instagram Stories” as the destination.

A cover art card for the music or podcast will then be generated on your Instagram Story, which you can further decorate with text and stickers, as usual. You can also choose to send the story as a direct message to a friend or a group chat, instead of all your followers.

Where Pandora’s experience differs from Spotify’s is what happens when that story is viewed.

When a friend taps the “Play on Pandora” button from the Instagram story, they can gain direct access to that content — even if they don’t have a Premium account. Those who aren’t paid subscribers will be able to view a short ad then gain access to both the shared content as well as a session of free, unlimited, on-demand music.

This is made possible through Pandora’s Premium Access ad solution, which rewards users for watching video ads with free, on-demand sessions.

That means Pandora’s take on Instagram sharing won’t just be useful to artists looking to promote their music, or fans looking to engage their friends — it will also potentially serve as a way to convert free users to paid subscribers after they get a free taste of what Pandora has to offer.

The feature can also be used to promote podcasts, which a newer battleground between Spotify and Pandora these days. The former has spent on acquisitions and hosts a number of exclusive shows while Pandora is now benefitting from new owner’s SiriusXM’s talk radio programming and its own “Genome” classification technology. 

Pandora says the Instagram Story sharing feature is launching today for select users, and will support sharing songs, albums, podcasts, and playlists.

It’s rolling out to a limited number of Pandora users to start, and will gradually reach the rest of the user base in the weeks ahead.


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Pandora opens up podcast submissions to all creators – gpgmail


The battle for podcasters among music streaming services continues. A day after Spotify announced the launch of its podcast analytics dashboard, Pandora is today expanding its own podcasting efforts with the arrival of a self-service online hub for creators. The new Pandora for Podcasters will allow creators to submit their shows for inclusion on the streaming service, where they can be discovered through Pandora’s show and episode-level recommendation system.

Pandora’s entry into the podcast market began late last year, when it brought its “Genome” technology to podcast recommendations. Similar to how Pandora’s Music Genome is capable of classifying songs across hundreds of different attributes, the new Podcast Genome Project does the same for audio programs.

The system uses more than 1,500 attributes — like MPAA ratings, production style, content type, host profile and more, as well as listener signals, like thumbs, skips, replays and more — combined with machine learning algorithms, natural language processing and collaborative filtering methods to help determine user preferences.

An additional layer of human curation is also involved in making the final recommendations.

The result is a system that is able to suggest not just shows a listener may like, but also individual episodes, based on their likes, dislikes and other insights gained from their listening history.

When podcasts launched on Pandora in December 2018, the service offered hundreds of shows and more than 100,000 episodes. There are now thousands of shows and over 500,000 episodes, the company claims.

Pandora parent SiriusXM has also played a role in expanding the streamer’s podcast offerings by bringing dozens of SiriusXM talk shows to Pandora as podcasts, and leveraging SiriusXM’s guests to narrate for Pandora’s music-and-audio product called Pandora Stories.

Now, podcast creators both large and small will be able to submit their own shows for inclusion in Pandora’s catalog. To do so, they’ll submit their show’s RSS feed URL to Pandora directly and answer a few questions about the podcast.

Based on a test from gpgmail editor (and podcaster) Brian Heater, Pandora asked for download numbers, social media links, and provided a time frame of 4-6 weeks for processing.

If approved, the show will be available to Pandora’s 65 million monthly active listeners and their future episodes will be added automatically.

This self-serve hub’s launch follows a similar move by Spotify nearly a year ago, when it opened up podcast submissions to all creators. Today, Spotify’s pitch to podcasters is to submit their shows in exchange for robust listener data. The company says it now has more than 450,000 shows on its platform, with around 100,000 signing up for inclusion through its own self-submission process.

Interested podcast creators can now submit their shows to Pandora here after first registering for a Pandora account.


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