In the world of the future, where music is as easily accessible as air, the new bread and butter of the music industry is discovery. While services like Turntable.fm center around small social gatherings, and Pandora uses fancy algorithms to predict your tastes, 8tracks asks "Um, hey, what was wrong with how radio worked? Also, do you guys like tablets?" The answers, of course, are "You know, that's a good point," and "Um, YEAH."

8tracks2 8tracks3


8tracks was already a great service centered around user-created playlists. The idea being that people know better than machines do what good music is. Unlike Turntable.fm, though, 8tracks allows all you virtual DJs to create custom playlists that others can then listen to. If you've been following along, though, you already knew that. What's new is that, if you own an Android tablet, your 8tracks experience just got a lot nicer.

The new UI is everything a good tablet UI should be. While listening to music, you have persistent controls in the lower left of the display while you browse around for new playlists, and 8tracks makes effective use of the Fragments system to display multiple panels at once. It's easy to navigate playlists and keep track of who you're following.

The update is live on the...*sigh*...Google Play Store now.

Eric Ravenscraft
Eric is a snarky technophile with a taste for the unusual. When he's not obsessing about Android, you can usually find him obsessing about movies, psychology, or the perfect energy drink. Eric weaves his own special blend of snark, satire, and comedy into all his articles.

  • Darrell V

    The problem with radio was the "pay to play" business model that most used. If you're only fed a few different things, you're bound to like one more than the other, giving the illusion of quality. But that's beside the point. I like anything that forces innovation in the music delivery industry--I just hope it's not like radio.

  • http://kennydude.me Joe Simpson

    The only thing I hate the most is how they included the Facebook sidebar-thingy.

    Do I see it on http://developer.android.com/design/ ? No? Don't add it!

    • http://codytoombs.wordpress.com Cody Toombs

      That's a terrible perspective. Do you want an ecosystem where every app looks exactly the same (nevermind that at one time in history that was specifically what people wanted). Even worse, do you want the whole artistic design of everything on your phone to be controlled by the one company that is famous for having virtually zero design aesthetic (just cause Android looks decent finally doesn't mean it's the end-all of design)?

      Agreed, it looks (too much) like the facebook sidebar. On a phone (or the way it renders on a tablet) the facebook sidebar is terrible, but it's actually a useful way to do the layout on a tablet when done like 8Tracks is. Other than minor graphical design elements, it's very nearly identical the Honeycomb/ICS Settings interface. If you see it as being so bad, demonstrate a better alternative.

      • http://codytoombs.wordpress.com Cody Toombs

        Oh yeah, meant to mention, the Design Guidelines don't really have much in the way for recommendations, at least none I can find on a quick skim. Disregarding the issue that there's not very many recommendations in the guidelines for how to do whole layouts on a tablet, the few things they do show actually do relate rather closely to the setup for 8Tracks.

    • thedude

      Not every tablet app should look the same! It's an optional guide. Be happy that they did anything at all.

    • http://www.AndroidPolice.com Artem Russakovskii

      You must be pretty upset at Gmail then. It has the same "sidebar-thingy."

  • j1006

    "The update is live on the…*sigh*…Google Play Store now."

    Amen to that.

  • Veeti

    > The new UI is everything a good tablet UI should be.

    Except for one thing: the app still uses the legacy options menu. A really strange design decision.

    • http://codytoombs.wordpress.com Cody Toombs

      Fairly easy to explain...look at the app requirements, "Android 2.1 and up". It's fairly easy to write multiple layouts for different screen sizes, but the ActionBar and Menu are a pain to make usable between 2.x and 4.x. It's not impossible, but the only good option is to use a 2.x friendly version of the ActionBar (from the little I've looked at it, it seems like a bad bandage) or write multiple layouts AND code paths and hope that nothing falls apart or gets too complicated...or just use to 2.x way of doing it for now ;)

      Despite knowing it's possible, I'll be honest, I've seriously considered writing 2 versions of the app I'm releasing soon. So much changed between 2.x and (3.x/)4.x that I'd rather maintain 2 similar applications than try to manage the bloat and code paths. I'm pretty sure I'll release a universal version, but it's really tempting to split it apart.

      • http://codytoombs.wordpress.com Cody Toombs

        Whoops, forgot to mention there's two backports of the ActionBar. One of them was done by Google (I think), and that's the one that seems to have a ton of problems. There's also ActionBarSherlock which I only learned about a few days ago, but it appears to solve a lot of the problems with the version Google released...Since it claims to be a feature complete backport, that means the menu could be moved into that...but these guys probably didn't know about it before working on this version of the app.

        Link to ActionBarSherlock on G+: https://plus.google.com/115995639636688350464/posts/4bC6dYUWbrf