Editors' Note: The "Download Now" link directs you to the iTunes App Store, where you must continue the download process. You must have iTunes installed in order to open the link, and you must have an active iTunes account to download the application. This download may not be available in some countries.
Bottom line: Napster for the iOS is a nicely designed app with an excellent user interface, plentiful features, and speedy navigation. Unfortunately, the sound quality isn't quite up to snuff.
Review: In terms of music apps, Napster lagged behind the competition before its caching-capable mobile program hit the iTunes music store. Luckily, what finally did arrive is a pleasure to behold. Clearly, a lot of effort went into designing the look and feel of the Napster for iOS app. The interface is quite simply one of the best we've seen from a mobile music program, with options laid out in a handy grid of large buttons and a slick, graphically appealing theme.
There are four main sections--explore, my collection, search, and player--which are laid out in a tabbed navigation bar lining the bottom of the screen. Hop into explore and you're taken to one of the top menus that lays out New Releases (available every Tuesday), Napster Playlists, Billboard Charts, Napster Top 100s, Explore by Genre, and Automix. As you can tell from the first four options, there's quite a variety of editorially programmed content to help you discover new music. In the playlist category alone you get hundreds of mixes that you can search by genre or category. In addition, the Automix function will generate a queue bases on any artist you type in, much like with music recommendation services Pandora and Slacker.
Get a closer look at Napster for iOS in our gallery.
If Napster's own content isn't doing it for you, you can search for any artist, album, or song that suits your fancy. The catalog contains more than 10 million tracks, so chances are, it has what most listeners are looking for. Whenever you find something you like, you can cache it to your device with the handy Save Offline button. These selections are added to your library.
In the My Collection section, you're presented with another grid of buttons for My Artists, My Playlists, My Albums, Recommended (based on your playback habits), My Top Songs, and My Play History. You can browse any of these options and add items to a playback queue. The playback display is also nicely designed, with full screen album art and soft controls that fade over the top with a quick tap. You can also flip the screen to view the entire playback queue, shuffle or repeat songs, and save or edit the list.
If Napster could stand on its UI and features alone, this iOS app would be a hands-down winner. Of course, this is a music app we're talking about here, which means sound quality counts--which is rather unfortunate for Napster in this case. Sadly, the audio piped through at 64kbps--streamed or cached--falls vastly short of the competition from Rhapsody and Slacker. By comparison, Napster's stream sounds hollow and anemic, with a flat overall response and virtually no low-end kick for many songs (those with subtler bass in particular).
At $9.99 per month for a subscription with mobile capability, Napster is right in line with the likes of Rdio, Rhapsody, and Slacker. Napster's superb interface and plethora of features are a huge draw, but anyone who is picky about audio quality should turn to one of its competitors.
Listen instantly to your choice of over 15 million full-length songs as often as you like, and in the order you want, including new releases and old favoritesall for just $10 a month. You can save songs, playlists, and albums to your iPhone to enjoy when not connected and listen while you run other apps. Also enjoy Napster on any connected computer, compatible TV, Blu-ray player or other compatible home audio product. New customer? TRY IT FOR FREE, and save 20% when you choose the Napster plus mobile access annual plan. Some of the things you can do with Napster plus mobile access: Save songs, albums, and playlists to play even when youre offline Kick back with playlists, recommendations, and Billboard charts dating back to 1955 Create your own playlists for a customized listening experience Save your last 100 songs played so you can easily replay favorites Automix your favorite song to create an instant playlist blending similar artistsNapster plus mobile access also allows unlimited access to Napster on the web from any browser. Please note: Songs saved to your mobile device will only remain playable during your Napster plus Mobile Access subscription membership. Napster is not responsible for any data charges that your mobile carrier may charge.
What's new in this version:
Napster is now a universal app for the iPad as well!We've completely redesigned Napster for the iPad to make it easier find and discover your favorite music in Napster's 15 million song catalog. See stunning photos of your favorite artists and view high resolution album art on the larger iPad screen.Napster on the iPad works no matter how you turn your screen. Flip it over to show off your favorite album or turn it upside down.Napster radio, thousands of expertly programmed playlists, and the Bi... See all new features »