metroradio

There is an official Pandora app for Windows Phone, but before that came out, we relied on third party applications like MetroRadio. Metro Pandora, the SDK that third party applications have relied on has just been pulled due to infringement notice from Pandora. The complaint will go undisputed.

Pandora’s DMCA Notice mentions the unauthorized use of their registered trademarks and API. We can’t blame Pandora for protecting their property.

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While Pandora made a big splash when it came to Windows Phone 8 earlier this year, MetroRadio had been around for much longer offering access to the same service. Back then, it would occasionally break as it used non-standard APIs to access the Pandora library. That has now been fixed, amongst other things, with the latest must-have update.

There are currently two versions of MetroRadio—one free, one paid—and the free one was updated last night with the paid receiving the same update a few weeks ago. It’s not a minor update either, as the app has been completely re-written with a new, simpler UI.

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Pandora recently changed their APIs for their service resulting in some significant downtime for unofficial Windows Phone apps. Radio Controlled is right around the corner and now MetroRadio (both free and Pro) are back on the Windows Phone Marketplace in full working condition.

While many will ding Pandora for doing this on purpose to block unofficial apps, the truth is more complicated than that. Windows Phone Central member Jiffy Pop received a detailed letter from Pandora discussing the ins and outs of the API changes. Here's a sample:

"We know that our recent release has broken most unsupported Pandora clients, and we do apologize for the surprise and inconvenience that undoubtedly caused to your listening experience.

At a basic level, third-party applications are violating our Terms of Use and are obviously not authorized to sell (or give away) something that fundamentally derives its value from our product...

We definitely do recognize that our actions limit the options available to well-intentioned listeners who do not want to use any of our endorsed clients, and we're genuinely sorry for the inconvenience this brings to our enthusiastic listeners like yourself! We really appreciate your support of the service and respect the DIY spirit, but our hand has been forced on this issue."

They mention security issues and potential malicious usage of their APIs as reasons for the changes and while they are not purposefully blocking Windows Phone clients, inevitably we're caught up in their API updates as a side effect.

Pandora does note that they still don't have plans for an official Windows Phone client either, so while this back-and-forth may be a pain for developers and listeners, it may be the only way forward for sometime if you're a diehard Pandora fan. Of course there are plenty of alternatives out there as well.

In the meantime, you can pick up MetroRadio 5.0 (free) or MetroRadio Pro 2.0 (no ads) in the Marketplace and be assured they are working now Edit: Pro is updated, the free version is getitng approved as we speak. Sit tight.

   

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Pandora have unceremoniously altered their undocumented APi (written up for Windows Phone users by Justin Angel) allowing outside access to their service, rendering unofficial 3rd party apps like MetroRadio, Radio Controlled and WPFandora temporarily useless.

The developer of MetroRadio, Mustafa Taleb, notified us of the situation noting:

"The user can no longer login using the 3rd party applications. Message from Pandora's servers:"org.apache.xmlrpc.XmlRpcException: 000.000.000.000|0|INCOMPATIBLE_VERSION|Pandora does not support your client version."

Possible reason: They changed their encryption keys.

I am currently working on a fix and it should take me no longer than 2 days to update the app, and 5 to publish it."

That's certainly a bummer especially for us who have the MetroRadio Pro app. The good news is devs should be able to once again fix this issue and push out an update. Needless to say, it's a pain and would be easier if (a) Pandora just let 3rd party apps use their service or (b) they had an official app for Windows Phone.

There's no evidence that Pandora are changing these APIs on purpose to block apps but whatever their motivation that is the effect.

We'll keep you posted but in the meantime, you may want to try iHeartRadio which has similar Pandora functions.

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If you like using MetroRadio, the first unofficial Pandora app for Windows Phone, you'll be pleased to know you have a new option: an ad-free version.

The free, ad-supported MetroRadio will of course still be available but if you don't like garish ads in your music streaming, you can now plop down $1.29 for a cleaned up, full screen Pandora-ness. The Pro version also has some of the latest, greatest stuff on board including:

  • Zune-esque screensaver
  • International streaming option (beta)
  • Explicit content filter

We've loaded up the Pro version and really like the look and feel of it. The screensaver, which is coming to the free version soon, is a nice touch and the international streaming option should be useful for those not in the US. Pick up MetroRadio Pro here in the Marketplace.

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We reported a few days ago that Pandora once again changed their undocumented APIs thereby breaking Radio Controlled and MetroRadio. Luckily the "fix" was easy and both apps are back, fully working again as far as we can tell. In addition, both have some other fixes and new features on board:

  • Radio Controlled - Hitting version 2.0, this app has received many new features and changes including being more Metro-themed, Last.FM login for "scrobbling" and Driving mode. Driving Mode is perhaps the most exciting as it gives a large, finger-friendly UI for when using the app on the road. It allows you to like/dislike a song, play/stop or to skip. We found this part truly ingenious and tremendously useful. In addition, the new "more Metro" look to the app, artists-as-background and other options make this an awesome update. You can grab Radio Controlled here for free in the Marketplace.
  • MetroRadio - Now on v3.3, this update is mostly bug fixes and to address the API change from Pandora. Those fixes include getting songs, Live Tiles and MetroMP3 search service. That app you can also pick up for free in the Marketplace right here.

It's great to know that so long as Pandora remains obstinate, we have independent developers willing to give us what we want. QR codes after the break...

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Do you use MetroRadio and/or RadioControlled for your Pandora interaction on Windows Phone? Then you may (or may not) have noticed that those apps have stopped working...again.

Reason? Simple, really. These apps use undocumented APIs to access the Pandora service. Pandora, for whatever reason, changes them on occasion breaking app functionality. Are they doing it on purpose to disrupt these apps? Who knows, maybe or maybe not. What we do know is that it means you'll have to wait till both developers update their apps to fix it and from what we've heard, both devs are hard at work on fixing it.

Until then, MetroRadio is "hidden" from the Marketplace and RadioControlled has submitted their fix (and "future proofed" it against this type of situation occurs again).  Stay tuned though, we'll give you a tour of the new working Radio Controlled soon enough.

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We're not here to choose which is the best 3rd party Pandora app, we're just here to tell what's new and what's coming.

MetroRadio v3.2 - MetroRadio has been pushing out many updates lately and 3.2 brings some nice changes. First off is the new feature called MetroMP3, a built in search engine that allows you to look for individual songs and stream 'em. It basically augments the Pandora funciton and is useful if you want to listen to a specific tune at the moment.

The Live Tiles also now update with each song and you can pin "Now Playing" to your start screen for quick and easy access, that's in addition to fixes for all known bugs. You can grab v3.2 now in the Marketplace for free here.

Radio Controlled v1.1 - The second Pandora app in the Marketplace, Radio Controlled continues to be refined and v1.1 goes a long way to making this app even better. We detailed this version a few days ago and it's not live. It includes new features including enable/disable auto play, artist song info in volume controls, Music Hub integration, History (view, rate, buy song), Stop command and bug and playback stability fixes. In other words, a pretty huge update.

What's more, we're playing with v1.2 right now and it has one massive new feature besides some UI changes: Last.FM support. Yup, with the next update you'll be able to login to your Last.FM account and do some 'scrobbling' on the go all within this app. Look for that in the coming weeks. You can pick up Radio Controlled v1.1 here in the Marketplace for free.

QR codes after the break...

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We like the little competition between MetroRadio and Radio Controlled for best 3rd party Pandora app and while the latter still has more features, MetroRadio's v3.1 update is looking quite nice.

As you can see above, the player itself now features the album art as a background which works weill with the minimalist layout and design of the app. The program's icon also got a refresh and looks a lot sharper now. Other changes include:

  • Added Live Tile for the main app, and for each individual pinned station.
  • Cleaned the player Interface.
  • Better Station-Adding experience.
  • Adding Coming Up for next songs in the player.

Nice changes for sure and it should make fans of this app quite happy. Can't wait to see what else is coming. Pick up MetroRadio for free in the Marketplace here.

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Back a few weeks ago we announced that MetroRadio had landed in the Marketplace, earning the title of being the first unofficial Pandora app for Windows Phone. Then Pandora made some changes to their undocumented APIs (something that should be anticipated) and the app stopped working. The developer then "hid" the app from the Marketplace until he could revise the app and make some changes--so there you go.

Now the app is back with v3.0 and it has a cleaner UI and more:

  • Faster loading
  • Changed the way the app gets its music
  • Added auto login
  • Added Now playing to the stations list
  • Fixed Issues with login
  • Fixed Issues with playback
  • Added more search results
  • UI improvements

Not bad. The app is still free of course and you can grab it here in the Marketplace.

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We're not exactly sure how all of this works but MetroRadio's login into Pandora is returning an error message. We could pass that off as just a random issue, perhaps a coding bug but we think it's Pandora.

Last night, we received a second unofficial Pandora app (in beta) from another developer. It's a much more polished looking app but alas, we never were able to try it because even that app has the login problem. Normally, not logging into Pandora with a personal accounts bumps you into a anonymous, temporary one so you can stream regardless (you just can't save or personalize)--but even that doesn't work now, making these Pandora apps DOA.

If true, this could set off a mean back and forth between devs and Pandora until the latter relents and you know, just gives us an official app. How hard to we have to poke these guys with a stick before they give us the time of day?

Update: Justin Angel and Den Delimarsky clarify that Pandora did break their own API last night at 2am. Angel has already updated the Metro Pandora SDK to fix this but it will presumably be a few more days before MetroRadio can be fixed. To be clear, this doesn't seem to be Pandora specifically blocking WP users but rather their simply changing their APIs for whatever reason.

Thanks, Kingc513, for the heads up!

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Yesterday we broke the news of the first Pandora app for Windows Phone called MetroRadio. Built off of the public SDK for Pandora by Justin Angel, developer Mustafa Taleb (see his other apps) has been quickly working to get to this app to the Marketplace. We now have our hands on the XAP file for this sneak peek.

Keep in mind, the app is still in development so this isn't the final version. Overall though, it works as advertised bringing down your radio stations, allowing you to add and rename stations, like/dislike and skip-track. It's a bit vanilla in design, but clearly these are things that can be addressed in later versions. Being a full Mango app, it of course uses the Zune controls and plays in the background.

Not bad at all for an early attempt and assuming it gets past the Marketplace, it should fill the void many are feeling with no official Pandora application.

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