Waaaaay back before the summer I was given an opportunity to test out the Bloom FM app for iPhone. Six months on, my subscription has run out, and it’s time for me to tell you all what I thought.
Bloom is a free radio-style music streaming app for iPhone and Android that allows you to listen to playlists of tracks from their 22 million-strong catalogue. If you want to listen to any of the tracks off-line then you can choose one of their subscription services; monthly payments that allow you to “borrow” the music and keep it on your phone so you can listen whenever you like. Think of it as a bit of a mix of the streaming capability of LastFM and subscription music of Spotify.
There are actually 100s of radio stations to choose from, including one based on the top 100 tracks, as well as stations by genre and artist. I found a really good spread of tracks, old and new, songs I knew and songs I didn’t. To drill down through the genres you keep tapping on the flower petals – each time I chose a genre it gave me another more specific selection, meaning I always found something I wanted to listen to. There really is something for everyone. I had surf rock on one day and Britpop the next.
Once you’ve got your chosen radio station playing, you can very easily “borrow” any track using the teardrop icon at the bottom of the app screen, which stores it within the app so you can play it at any time you like. I particularly like that you can do this whilst listening to a station without interrupting the track; it stores the music in the background for you to revisit later. I’d often find myself listening away, getting on with stuff, singing along maybe, and then realising I’d not tapped to borrow any of the tracks at all – I end up in my own little world and can’t actually remember what I was listening to. You can go back and listen again, though, just in case!
Every now and again I’d find I a track being played that really didn’t fit with the station I’d chosen. It is easy to tell Bloom that it’s got something wrong using the thumbs down rating icon, which is a useful feature which ultimately leads to better and better radio stations.
Bloom also allows you to save music from their library to listen to offline. With the full-bloom subscription, which costs £10 a month direct from Bloom (it is dearer an an in-app purchase), you can borrow as many tracks as you like at any time, for as long as you keep the subscription going. There are also other subscription options; to have 20 tracks at a time – the equivalent to a compilation album – it costs just £1 a month. Or £5 per month for 200 tracks at a time. Borrowing is very easy, as I’ve explained – thankfully returning is also easy when you are in your library screen.
The app itself is really nicely designed. It is one of those designs that encompasses the spirit of iOS very well – it is bright, simple and intuitive to use. The bright yellow cartoon like design might seem a bit childish with its flowers and bees, but it gives the app a cute character to the interface.
I’d say this is a nice looking slick radio player app that streams songs I want to listen to even if I’ve never heard of them before, and gives me the opportunity to borrow music to listen to offline. If I ever decide to stop buying music to keep (yes, I still by CDs), then I would definitely consider that £10 per month subscription good value for money.