For us, the iPhone has already replaced our radio while driving. Thanks to a steady stream of podcasts and the Last.fm and Pandora applications, annoying DJs and endless commercials have become a thing of the past. Now, another streaming music app, Slacker Radio, which was already available for the Blackberry, has arrived in the App Store (iTunes link), and we think it is a worthy competitor to the popular Last.fm and Pandora apps.

In most respects, Slacker is similar to both Pandora and Last.fm. You can create your own stations by seeding it with the name of an artist or song. Just like the latest versions of the Pandora app, Slacker, too, puts a lot of emphasis on its genre stations, though Slacker features a larger variety of stations than Pandora.

Overall, Slacker feels a lot like satellite radio, which is probably no surprise, given that XM Radio's co-founder Lon Levin is Slacker's Senior Advisor.

With regards to its user interface, every Pandora and Last.fm user will feel right at home. One nice addition to Slacker, though, is the ability to see which songs will play next.

Customization

One advantage of Slacker over its competitors is that it gives you more options to directly customize your stations. You can direct it to play songs from different decades, and decide if you want it to mostly play hits or also more obscure songs.

Competition

Slacker's reviews and biographies can't quite compete with the depth of information offered by the Last.fm app, which can also display tour dates. Slacker also doesn't feature any of the social networking functions that have made Last.fm so popular.

Just like its competitors, Slacker only allows you to skip six songs per station every hour. Unlike Pandora and Last.fm, however, Slacker does play 30 second radio ads after every fifth song. For $3.99 a month, however, you can buy a premium membership that lets you skip songs as often as you want and which removes the advertising from your stream.

Like all the other streaming music apps on the iPhone, Slacker can't play in the background while you surf the web or read your email. This, of course, is a limitation that Apple has put on its developers, even though Apple's own music player on the iPhone does this without causing any problems.

Verdict

Even though Slacker Radio is very similar to the Last.fm and Pandora app, we think it is definitely worth a try. Whether you prefer one over the other will depend on how happy you are with the music recommendations it gives and how important the social features of Last.fm are to you.