last.fm released the new design they've been working on since May. At first glance it looks quite different to the Facebook-like UI that we saw in the beta in June. However as we noted in our review of the beta last month, the beta UI was much criticized - so the fresh lick of paint is probably due to that user feedback (and, as you can see in the screenshot below, the new header literally looks like a lick of paint!).Today online music service
The launch today was disrupted by server issues, but as of writing the service is running smoothly. The main changes are a fully visible library, more comprehensive Last.fm music profile, iPod / media player sync, real-time charts, "instant recommendations", activity feeds, a new music player, improved sharing, and podcasts. Also an iPhone app was launched earlier this week.
As noted in our previous review, last.fm has had many navigation issues in the past. The new design is supposedly simpler, but the navigation issues aren't completely resolved - for example now a drop-down list has been added to the top right, but I'm not sure that's going to be intuitive enough for many users. Still, the new navigation is an improvement on the old one. Although it couldn't be much worse, in all honesty.
Here's a quick visual look at the evolution of last.fm's new design:
Current (new) design - the 'Lick of paint' design
Beta design circa June 08 - the 'Facebook design'
A reminder that last.fm is an online music service, which can be enjoyed via a desktop software app or within the browser. Last.fm is built on top of a very impressive music recommendation database called AudioScrobbler. See our February '08 post about last.fm for full details on how last.fm works.
Also last.fm recently released a new version of their public API, which allows any application or device to achieve deep integration with the Last.fm platform. Perhaps this is one of the reasons behind media player VLC's new support of last.fm, announced today too. Overall, it appears that the now CBS-owned online music service is keeping pace in the fast-moving web 2.0 world. Let us know your thoughts in the comments.