Archive: July, 2011

MOG: A Spotify alternative

After testing stream music services for last week’s post, Rdio came out the winner but had some shortcomings; its stream was sub-CD quality and the music library had noticeable gaps. That lead me to MOG, an early entrant into the U.S. mobile streaming market. I passed over the service a year ago, but with recent praise of the service’s sound quality on Twitter, I decided to give it another look for the past week.

Bottom line: after only a few days of MOG usage, I’m impressed. I’ll be signing up for both MOG and Rdio’s $5 a month web plans for the foreseeable feature. There’s a few reasons you should consider MOG as well, especially if you’re intrigued by Spotify:

  • Every song is streamed at a consistent 320kbps bit rate over the web and can be stored offline on mobile devices at the same quality. For audiophiles this feature is probably worth $5 per month on its own. It’s the only streaming music service I’ve used that rivals the sound quality of my CD rips and downloads from services like Amazon, iTunes and 7Digital.
  • Track selection is excellent, closely matching Spotify’s offerings. There isn’t a clear winner between the two services; Spotify tends to have better euro-pop and electronic selections while MOG has better coverage of classic and indie rock. Either way, at least from my informal tests, it was hard to find serious gaps in either.

Continue reading…

Spotify v. Rdio: The new streaming music battle

The much hyped and praised streaming music service Spotify debuted in the U.S. last Thursday and like many others, I signed up. One week after testing Spotify Premium extensively I’m sticking with my existing service, Rdio. I find Rdio’s excellent discovery tools and social integration trump any of Spotify’s advantages. Overall though, there’s not a definitive winner in these streaming music wars; each service has their own set of strengths and weaknesses.

It’s not easy at first to pick apart those differences as both Rdio and Spotify share a lot in common. Each has a huge song selection, mobile syncing for music on the go, search capabilities and integration with social networks like Facebook and Twitter. Yet the two services diverge in their user interface and sound quality on different mediums, the focus for the remainder of this article.

Continue reading…

Give users more room: design lessons from Google+ and Mac OS X Lion

It’s clear Google+ and Mac OS X Lion are getting a lot of attention from tech and design communities online. Some question the focus, but I think it’s well deserved based solely on both products’ visual design changes. However, it’s not flashy CSS3 animations or iOS-like visualizations that have me excited. Instead, I’m most impressed by the changes in spacing; Google+ and Lion provide significantly more room between UI elements and content than their competitors (or in the case of Lion, earlier versions of Mac OS X.)

That white space factor is one way Google+ distinguishes itself from Facebook and Twitter: Content receives extra padding and wider margins than I initially expected. Side columns are sparsely populated and the pages for Circles and profile management are spaced out to ensure editable elements have adequate room. Comment threads are limited in scope by default (though more customization here would be welcome) to keep the stream view uncluttered. In addition, while it’s not exactly Google+ only, listings in Gmail, Google Calendar and core Google Search results all received a bump in padding to increase readability.

Continue reading…