For those of us who are on the road a lot, or even the cubicle slaves of the world, there aren’t a lot of choices for taking our music library with us. Sure, we have our iPods and phones, but sometimes we need other options, regardless of the reason.
Personally, my reasoning is that I get sent about 50-60 new tracks every week, from artists around the world. The time that I have to listen to these is limited to while I’m in the car. It’s a pain having to load them onto my iPod, only to find out that something sucks. So, I need a better option. For me, Audiobox.fm is it.
The basic idea is this: take tunes from your library, use a web-based interface to put them onto Audiobox.fm’s server and then play them back when ever and where ever you want. The site supports streaming in whatever bitrate that you upload, and requires no software installation. That’s another huge plus.
The money side of things comes via a subscription system, with varying levels of features. The free service will work for a lot of people. It includes 1 GB of storage, and (like all levels) unlimited streaming.
But if you really want to dig into the deep toys of Audiobox, you should consider laying out a couple of dollars. The key missing ingredient to Audiobox (over other options) is some sort of way to play things that aren’t in your library. The Basic level subscription has that covered with integration of Last.fm.
Audiobox.fm does a few things very well. Streaming via a desktop browser window is lightning-fast, and I love the fact that it doesn’t re-sample to a lower bitrate or format. However, that can also cause problems with devices such as the iPhone where you might not have sufficient bandwidth to stream a 320k MP3 file. It would be nice to have some ability to choose between original and transcoded audio, for situations such as this. Overall though, I have no complaints. The layout is very well organized, and value-added features such as album art and playlists make things that much more fun.
Using Audiobox.fm in a mobile browser is exactly the same as in a desktop, with the exception of playlists. If you create some playlists, you’ll have a bit easier navigation, so it’s worth your time. But the overall look and feel of the site is the same, regardless of what browser you’re using.
The dashboard layout is clean, and gives you an overview of your current account and space use. There are very few options because, simply, there don’t need to be. When you don’t try to create a huge social network or something similar out of your application, you are able to pass on that beautiful simplicity to your users.
Right now, the only thing that I see missing from Audiobox.fm is native support for Android devices. However, Claudio from Audiobox tells me that this will be coming very soon. In an email, he states:
“Please keep in mind that a lot is to come in the next few days, we will release the native Android application (which is extremely cool and well done in my opinion) and Dropbox bridging, so a user can use his/her Dropbox account to import media files directly in AudioBox.fm”
You can be sure that I’ll be writing up the Android application when it releases, as this would be the final straw that I’d need to convert. Being able to stream my library while driving down the road is the closest thing to music and time management Nirvana that I’ve seen.
Audiobox.fm is also integrating a marketplace where artists will be able to upload and share their music. The marketplace will go one step further, as well, by giving developers the ability to add applications that can be purchased to customize your Audiobox.fm experience.
So keep an eye out. Audiobox.fm is headed for big things. There are other options out there that do similar services, but right now there’s nothing that’s as good and as widely available as Audiobox.fm.