Pandora Ships Its Biggest Android Update Yet With A Redesign, Music Exploration Features And More

Pandora has been fairly open about the fact that mobile is a major focus for the music streaming company. More than 70% of listening on Pandora takes place on a mobile device—33 million hours of songs are played in a single day on Pandora, and 23 of those hours take place on mobile platforms. And more than 100 million of Pandora’s 150 million registered users have accessed Pandora via mobile device. Today, Pandora is releasing a new version of its Android app, which is the biggest update in the app’s 3 year history, with a complete redesign, addition of new discovery features and more.

The company has long offered an Android app (the first version was launched in 2009) and CTO and head of product Tom Conrad tells us that Pandora generally sees more new registrations on Android devices than any other platform on any given day. Pandora currently supports 881 different Android smartphone devices.

As Conrad explains, mobile is a trickier environment to test and evolve, especially on Android because you aren’t developing for one device but hundreds of different mobile handsets. But Android has lagged behind in terms of design, and over the past few months, the company has invested considerable time in bringing its Android app into the Pandora family in terms of performance, design and interactivity.

The most significant change is the redesign of the app, says Conrad. Pandora has made the app’s form more in line with its HTML5 app, giving the Android app and more consistent feel with iOS, and the web experiences. “We’ve embraced all the conventions of Android, including the Ice Cream Sandwich style user experience,” he explains. Navigation has also been changed for a more user-friendly and intuitive flow.

Another major addition is interactivity features, says Conrad. Users can access song history and review, rate, or bookmark previously played tracks. One feature set that is now exclusive to the Android app is an encyclopedia-like exploration function. You can access full song lyrics, artist bios, similar artists and tracks and track features from the Music Genome Project. This hasn’t yet been added to iOS, but will be added eventually “This is first step in a broader evolution of mobile applications for Pandora,” Conrad says. The emphasis for this release is really on consumer, he adds.

There’s no doubt that the future of Pandora may be on its mobile interactions. And with 50 percent of total ad revenue coming from mobile, Pandora is focused on ways to make mobile ads more interactive. “Every disruptive medium finds their native, optimal ad unit,” Conrad tells us. “For us it’s the in-stream mobile audio ad.”

Clearly, more and more users are flocking to their mobile devices to use the application, and there’s more competition for listeners with Spotify entering Pandora’s domain with radio. Increasing the Android app’s functionality should only help boost usage and users. But the update also shows that Pandora is looking for ways to add more interactive and exploratory features to its apps to boost usage and engagement. The company seems to be looking beyond just providing music, which could pay off in a big way and differentiate its apps from rivals.