Spotify and Rdio have already made their mark (for better or worse) on Windows Phone 8, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room in the Windows Phone Store for another claimant to the streaming music throne. Nearly five months after it was publicly announced, Pandora has just officially pushed its native Windows Phone 8 app out into the wild.
Microsoft first teased us with word of a Pandora app for Windows Phone 8 when it unveiled the platform in San Francisco last October, where Joe Belfiore also confirmed that users would get one year of unlimited, ad-free music thanks to Microsoft’s largesse. That deal seems to have been modified slightly — it turns out users will get unfettered access to Pandora’s music through the end of the 2013 rather than a full calendar year, but that’s still not shabby considering Pandora recently resurrected its 40 hour monthly cap on mobile music.
As you’d expect from a Windows Phone 8 app, Pandora makes prominent use of the platform’s blocky start screen — users can pin their preferred stations to the start screen for easy access to their music, while a Live Tile provides up-to-date artist and track information with out having to open up the app proper. The parents among you will also be glad to know that this version of the Pandora app jibes quite well with Windows Phone 8’s Kid’s Corner. Your offspring can still listen to most of their tunes just fine, but mom and dad can pop into the app’s settings to prevent Pandora from listing explicit tracks entirely.
I haven’t yet had the chance to take the new Pandora for a spin, but early reactions peg it as a promising addition to the Windows Phone ecosystem and with any luck these sorts of polished submissions won’t just be exceptions to a rule going forward. Microsoft certainly isn’t the only company working to get prominent developers on-board — BlackBerry 10 arguably has a harder road ahead of it — but it’s shown that it’s willing to pay for quality apps and that may make all the difference.