Pandora's new lookSource: Pandora

What you need to know

  • A new, streamlined UI brings bottom-bar navigation and a new coat of very colorful paint.
  • Full albums are now available for playback, both for free and premium subscribers through the Pandora app.
  • This free app update is now available for all users.

A huge redesign has just launched for all Pandora users, free and premium-subscription alike, and represents the biggest change Pandora has ever seen in its two-decade history. Along with a plethora of new features, the most immediate change users will notice is the new user interface. Several elements have been modernized to match with 2019 design trends, but adds a significant amount of color to the usual light/dark elements that most other apps use. Pandora has been testing this new interface with some users since October and is now rolling it out to everyone.

Among the list of new features included is a "For you" section, a personalized discovery feed that's dynamically-updated throughout the day with both music and podcasts tailored to your listening habits. A "Pandora Modes" station includes new customization options, and Playback 2019 will give you a personalized year-in-review. Pandora has even added tons of new music from popular artists, as well as a Top Thumb Hundred 2019 station so you can check out the most thumbed-up songs of the year.

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Pandora has been around for quite some time (two decades now, to be exact). Over that time, the landscape of streaming music has changed drastically. While radio-only streaming made Pandora as big as it is today, services like Spotify, Google Play Music, and Apple Music have ebbed away at its market share and forced the company to rethink how it operates. Pandora used to hold claim to 70% of the streaming market but has ebbed since 2014 when other services like Spotify took the crown.

Full albums in PandoraSource: Pandora

Pandora now offers a significant number of compelling features above and beyond its original "Music Genome Project" algorithm that powers the radio station portion of Pandora. Among the list of features added over the past decade include the ability to listen to full albums and podcasts, special features created by artists for their fans, and even live concerts and other events stemming from the SiriusXM acquisition earlier this year.

My own Pandora usage took a back seat as I fell deeper into Google Play Music over the years, and I was surprised to find that these latest updates allow you to listen to full albums and podcasts, much like the free version of Spotify on the desktop. As Google continues to build up YouTube Music and eventually push users away from Google Play Music, Pandora increasingly looks to be a truly great viable alternative to consider.

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