The headline act of We7's new free Android app is that it lets you download up to 5 hours of audio from your custom-built radio station, to keep you going when you're offline. It's a bit like Last.fm, in that you can't choose the exact tracks you want, only an artist or genre, but the downloading is an impressive feature, which no one else offers on a free service.
Radio streaming playback is supported by adverts, although we didn't hear any during our test this morning. Android users can download the app now, and get listening. iPhone users will need to be patient and wait until April to get their free radio.
We wanted to test out this remarkable free radio app, so we grabbed a copy from the Android Market and switched our ears to listen mode. Your stations can be based on an artist, song or genre that you love. So type in Coldplay, and you'll be soothed all day by various self-obsessed morons yapping about important issues. It's like banter, but with guitars.
If your taste is a little different, why not pop in 'happy hardcore' as your genre of choice? You'll be presented with several stations offering that brand of awesome choonage. We selected 'Hardcore till I Die radio' and were treated to the album Clubland Classix - The Album of Your Life in a random order. "Hmm," we muttered. "That's not representative of the rich vein of Happy Hardcore this nation has produced since the raves of the early 90s." So we tried another playlist and got a selection of tracks by Scooter. Again, not quite what we were hoping for.
Katy Perry, on the other hand, is pop. A lot of people like pop, so what abundant musical variety would a station based on the vacuous wastrel offer us? A startling blast of Perry's Hot 'n' Cold was followed by If We Ever Meet Again, which features Timbaland -- we thought that was a shoe -- and Katy Perry. Next up, it was Fingerprints by, er, Katy Perry. So much for variety.
This might be what you're looking for, though. Sometimes we find that Last.fm won't play enough of the artist we've selected and that frustrates us too (Last.fm is a CBS company, like CNET UK). But surely there's a middle-ground?
As for sound quality, the We7 app was good, but not excellent, with the mid-range a little muddy and the high end too bright for our tastes. The app also seems sometimes to lose the Internet connection, even though it's still there and working fine. Search is quite quick and the app is, on the whole, much less frustrating than Spotify's travesty. We did find it wasn't immune to some stuttering though, which was annoying.
Pay for a Premium+ subscription, at £10 per month, and you'll be able to search through We7's catalogue of 6.5 million songs, and store them on your device to listen to anywhere. There are also exclusive tracks available early for members if you're a top-tier subscriber, just like Spotify.
Update: As we were going to press, Katy Perry radio played Adele's Make You Feel My Love. Then it played Pearl, by Katy Perry, and followed it up with Not Like the Movies, also by Katy Perry.