iHeart Radio vs Pandora
Radio apps are an increasingly popular concept these days. It seems like a strange blend of old and new. Radio feels like a relic of the days before television; sure, we all still listen to the radio in our car, but is that, too, not old-fashioned? Music is available on demand anywhere now. However, radio apps have all the advantages of a radio station, like music discovery and continuous streaming, with none of the disadvantages, like constant fade out. Thus, they are growing in popularity.
Radio Stream Differences and Similarities
So what are the basic differences and similarities between the two services? There are plenty of similarities. Both are radio streaming apps: they don’t give you control over which track you’re playing, but do allow you to choose the station. There are lots of these stations premade on both and, on both, you can create your own personalized stations, too. You’re easily able to thumbs-up and thumbs-down tracks so it’s clear what you’re enjoying and what you’re not. Both apps are ad-supported, and both limit your number of skips you get a day.
So much for the similarities. There are a few differences: iHeartRadio plays live radio unless you choose to create a custom station. There are downsides and upsides to that; if your station has a lot of annoying ads, you’ll be made to suffer through them, but on the other hand, you’ll get all the fun stuff like radio shows. Pandora works purely based on algorithms, so you don’t have the human element, but do get something tailored precisely for you.
iHeart Radio Pros and Cons
There’s lots to love about iHeartRadio, but some downsides as well.
Upsides of iHeartRadio:
- Full-featured radio: You get the complete radio experience with iHeartRadio, since you’re streaming it directly.
- Plenty of extras: Comedy, sports, news, and talkshows are all available.
- Lots of songs: Since it’s a radio service primarily, not an independent music streaming one, individual licensing isn’t an issue. 20 million songs, here you come.
Downsides of iHeartRadio:
- No premium (yet): Though Premium options are in development, all must use iHeartRadio at the same level for now.
- Less control: When you “like” a song, the radio station learns, but it won’t directly influence the type of music played.
- Fewer support options: iHeartRadio isn’t supported on quite as many platforms as Pandora is; there’s plenty, but if you’re looking for completeness, you won’t quite find it.
Additionally, see our iHeart Radio review!
Pandora Pros and Cons
Pandora may be great, but it’s got its faults, too.
Upsides of Pandora:
- Length of Existence: Pandora’s been streaming music for listeners since 2000. With over fifteen years of experience, you can be it’s got its ducks in order.
- Premium service: If you’re tired of ads and want unlimited skips, just buy Pandora One for about four bucks a month.
- Advanced algorithms: Pandora’s finely-tuned music matching algorithms are great at getting you exactly what you want out of each station. It’s very easy – just like and dislike things.
Downsides of Pandora:
- No human element: There won’t be any radio shows on Pandora, unfortunately; just pure music. If you enjoy radio hosts, you’re out of luck.
- Fewer songs: The nature of Pandora’s service means it must license with artists individually. Unfortunately, that means fewer songs. Not their fault, but a fact of the service type.
- Fewer specialties: Comedy and podcasts are the only extras Pandora can offer you right now.
Best App to Stream Radio Live
So, in the end, what’s the best app to stream radio live? That really depends on what you’re looking for. If you want self-curated continuous playlists, go with Pandora. If you want to tap into existing radio stations, iHeartRadio is the best option. However, since iHeartRadio has custom options like Pandora as well, we think it’s overall the better bet if you’re downloading just one app. Its algorithms aren’t as detailed, but even so, it’s a pretty good bet.