OpenPandora Application Review

In my everyday work, I listen to Pandora, a free personalized Internet radio service, almost all day. I listen so much that I’ve even become a paid subscriber. It gets me through my day.

It may seem nit picky, but sometimes it is cumbersome having my browser open all the time. Sometimes I accidentally close a browser tab which closes Pandora or sometimes I don’t even use a browser all day but still have to keep one open so I can have Pandora going. Is there a solution for people like me? Yes!

The Solution: OpenPandora

OpenPandora is “an open source Windows desktop application that exposes Pandora music discovery service.” Basically, OpenPandora extracts the Pandora web application to your operating system and eliminates the need to have a browser open. It does other nifty things such as:

  • Updates your instant messenger status to reflect the song you’re currently listening to
  • Submits tracks listened to your account
  • Allows you to use the media features on your keyboard to control Pandora or even assign your own global shortcuts if you don’t have media keys
  • Allows you to setup balloon popups to notify you of song changes so you know what song is currently playing without having to sift through your wild abundance of open windows

Sounds great in theory, but how well does it actually work?

It works quite well, actually. Upon first launching the application, I was already logged in. I assume it steals my browser cookies or something similar. Most of the playlist management features are contained within the base application of Pandora, so most of the features that you have on the website you still have in OpenPandora.

Some things you might miss from Pandora are artist info, album info, lyrics, and the ability to create genre-specific playlists. Whenever I want to use these features, I’ll typically go to the Pandora website and use them from there. Hopefully, these features will be somehow built into future versions of OpenPandora.

Another feature I find useful in OpenPandora is the ability to start the service when Windows boots. Since I am always listening to Pandora, enabling this feature was obvious for me.

Lastly, there is one small bug I have found that may or may not bother some of you as much as it bothered me. Every so often OpenPandora seems to lose my application settings. These are the settings that aren’t built into Pandora but are added features as a part of OpenPandora. Because global media keys are disabled by default, I occasionally will try to use them and find OpenPandora fails to recognize them. Upon investigating, I noticed all my custom settings were somehow reverted. I’m not sure if this is caused by shutting down incorrectly, or what, but it happens once every few weeks. While it’s not that big of a deal, it can become a pain having to setup all my settings every time it happens.

Overall, OpenPandora is a great product, and I would recommend it to anyone who is almost always listening to it like I am. Also, if you use it as much as I do, you should subscribe to their paid service and help out the Pandora team because the service they provide is really spectacular.