Samsung is doing something unusual for the company – focusing on mobile software design, with a new product out today called Milk Music. It’s a streaming radio app, with free (and ad-free) streaming of tracks in the U.S. that’s available via Google Play to owners of Galaxy smartphones, including the Galaxy S4, Galaxy SIII, Galaxy Note 3, Galaxy Note II, Galaxy Mega and Galaxy S4 mini exclusively. It’s essentially an iTunes Radio competitor for Samsung smartphone owners, really, and it’ll also make its way to the Galaxy S5 when that comes out in April, too.
Milk Music differentiates itself not only with free music and a total absence of ads, but also via a unique and refreshing user interface that uses a dial control for tuning what kind of music is playing, and that puts music playback front and center, with instant playback starting at launch and no signups or logins required. The circular control allows people to tune to different genres and sub-genres, and preferences can bet tweaked further via three sliders that are called from the bottom of the interface that allow you to adjust how recently music has been released, how popular it is and how closely it aligns to your preferred track history.
You can also create your own stations using artists and albums you like, check out curated collections arranged by others, and skip up to six songs per hour, per individual station. Samsung also says that it will be working with artists to offer up “unique music programming,” meaning we could see some exclusive content a la iTunes sessions come through the service.
Milk is powered by Slacker music, the Financial Times reveals, meaning Samsung didn’t have to go around arranging licensing deals itself, yet it can offer a substantial library of 13 million songs out of the gate. The FT also says that while it’s true that the service is free and devoid of ads for now, that’s subject to change as this is a “temporary” arrangement.
This is an interesting app and a good move for Samsung and its users, but the name is truly perplexing, and the temporary nature of the pricing leaves a lot up in the air regarding how much of a value add it really is over other competing services that aren’t locked to a specific set of just a few devices. Still, Samsung is showing that it has some mobile software design chops with the app, at least, and differentiating its products in a smart way that doesn’t involve just slapping a slightly different UI on top of Android.