You can imagine my enthusiasm as a long time Napster subscriber, when I learned that the Napster Android App is finally available here, under the rock (i.e. Germany) with offline and all … of course I immediately downloaded the app and … entered a world of pain …
The first disappointment was that even though I’m a flatrate subscriber I was only allowed to listen to 30 sec extracts of my song collection even when streaming, which I would have expected to be working without additional charge. But I was interested in offline anyway to finally be able to listen to my napster stuff in the car (3G coverage just isn’t sufficient to ensure constant streaming while driving), so I happily agreed to upgrade my account to “flatrate + mobile”.
Unfortunately the assumption, that “upgrade successful” meant that NOW I could finally start to listen to Napster music on my phone was a bit naive. I restarted the app, rebooted my phone, waited a couple of days, restarted again, all to no avail. After a couple of more days support was able to upgrade me “instantly” (2 more days) instead of the initially projected July 11 (!!), kindly reminding me that after the upgrade I would not be able to download tracks on the PC client anymore (which I never did anyway, but WTF ?!??).
So since yesterday night I’m the first active Napster Android customer in Germany (probably, considering the quality of the upgrade process), and still complaining 😛
On paper the service looks really good: You can stream music on 3G or Wifi or you can explicitly save tracks, playlists or albums. By default, the app even caches the next 10 and up to 100 last tracks automatically. On top you get all the useful recommendations and radios and playlist you know from the web interface. Sounds to good to be true ? Right !!
I’m not complaining about the UI buttons weirdly overlapping on my (pretty low- res) HTC Wildfire, or about the sluggish downloads (2 mins for 1 track on the same wifi connection that lets me download a whole album in the same time using the Windows client), no, not even at the 5-10 secs delay until a track starts playing (probably running a bug bunch of DRM checks).
No, I could live with all that – but is it really asking too much from a music player app to play several songs in a row ?!??
Because, here’s the little catch, unfortunately the Napster app can’t do that. If running in the background it crashes completely after 1 or 2 songs, and even when running in the foreground it more often than not hangs between tracks until you turn the display back on, so that I have to use Screen On (to keep the display on while running Napster, with a devastating effect on battery life) to be able to use it at ALL.
For € 12.95 per month (roughly twice the $9.99 Napster charges in the US) this “service” is nothing but a bad joke. Unfortunately none of the (supposedly) better services like Rhapsody or Spotify are available in my country, but if there ever is an Alternative I’ll boot them on the very day. Until then I guess it’s some more rounds of email ping pong with support for me – hope springs eternal ..
Update: After reassurance from Bettina from Napster support, that the app DOES play several tracks in a row on her own HTC, I started experimenting, and am now (after resetting my phone to Factory defaults) able to listen to my music without keeping the display on. YAY !! Still leaving the original text in place, for your reading pleasure 😉
Update 2: Of course the next track issue came up again (the very next day) but this time it was sufficient to “delete application data” (settings / applications) and remove the napster folder from the SD. Not sure about the reason, but it might be related to deleting incompletely downloaded albums and later downloading them again (although the issue affected other albums, too)