Pandora comments on Windows Phone and MetroRadio returns for more streaming

Pandora recently changed their APIs for their service resulting in some significant downtime for unofficial Windows Phone apps. Radio Controlled is right around the corner and now MetroRadio (both free and Pro) are back on the Windows Phone Marketplace in full working condition.

While many will ding Pandora for doing this on purpose to block unofficial apps, the truth is more complicated than that. Windows Phone Central member Jiffy Pop received a detailed letter from Pandora discussing the ins and outs of the API changes. Here's a sample:

"We know that our recent release has broken most unsupported Pandora clients, and we do apologize for the surprise and inconvenience that undoubtedly caused to your listening experience.At a basic level, third-party applications are violating our Terms of Use and are obviously not authorized to sell (or give away) something that fundamentally derives its value from our product...We definitely do recognize that our actions limit the options available to well-intentioned listeners who do not want to use any of our endorsed clients, and we're genuinely sorry for the inconvenience this brings to our enthusiastic listeners like yourself! We really appreciate your support of the service and respect the DIY spirit, but our hand has been forced on this issue."

They mention security issues and potential malicious usage of their APIs as reasons for the changes and while they are not purposefully blocking Windows Phone clients, inevitably we're caught up in their API updates as a side effect.

Pandora does note that they still don't have plans for an official Windows Phone client either, so while this back-and-forth may be a pain for developers and listeners, it may be the only way forward for sometime if you're a diehard Pandora fan. Of course there are plenty of alternatives out there as well.

In the meantime, you can pick up MetroRadio 5.0 (free) or MetroRadio Pro 2.0 (no ads) in the Marketplace and be assured they are working now Edit: Pro is updated, the free version is getitng approved as we speak. Sit tight.

Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft since 2007 when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, laptops, next-gen computing, and for some reason, watches. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics, watched people sleep (for medical purposes!), and ran the projectors at movie theaters because it was fun.

  • Just downloaded and can't get passed "Initializing..."
  • Same here..
  • My guess is Pro got updated first (shakes ash off of cigar) while the free version is making it's way to the Marketplace. Hold tight as it's coming through.
  • Seems clear to me, no matter what their philosophers say:  They're not going to provide an app or endorse one of the existing apps for WP, so basically they're snubbing WP.  Honestly, until I see the name here I keep forgetting Pandora even exists anymore.
  • yup, same. 8tracks for the win!
  • Pandora is now retricted to US only so I guess I just wasted a perfectly good 99 pence on Metro Radio then eh.. .. ;^)
  • Always has been? I tried registering when the 2 current pandora apps were first released... No dice. I'm sure you could do it via some ip tunnelling trickery, if you can be bothered :P
  • I was a huge Pandora fan, but since they have shown no interest in Windows Phone I'm sticking with
  • ...and Xbox Live also. How many millions of users is that? I loved Pandora back in the day but with all the trouble they are going through to not support new MS platforms, I really have to just imagine they have some kind of Ideologically charged reason to not release apps. I hate wanting to be someone's customer and being denied.
  • Welcome to the rest of the world :P We're denied Pandora and Last.Fm (among many other region-locked apps) as well as a whole host of basic WP7 features.
  • LastFM is fine with me I've had two party's using LastFM and my Xbox Companion and everyone loved the way it worked.
  • " well-intentioned listeners who do not want to use any of our endorsed clients"
    No, ON THE CONTRARY, we would LOVE to use the endorsed client....
  • Endorsed clients are referring to borg and phoni platforms =/
  • I can't believe a company who's public stock is hurting is still purposefully snubbing a couple million users for seemingly no good reason at all...and then pissing us off by not letting others do the job for them. It's a lose/lose for them and while it's not a huge dent into the bottom line, it doesn't help either. As a shareholder, I can't wait to voice my opinion when I get to vote for board member changes.
  • No, the reason is because the CEO for Pandora thinks Windows Phone is a failure and will not succeed and so he will not put money in to a product that he believes will only succeed. Its total bullshit now since all the Nokia phones are all selling out. He's running out of bullshit excuses.
  • Err meant to say that he will not put any money into a product will NOT succeed.
  • Sadly, all of technology is religion and politics anymore.
    Look at, that Amazon picked up.  They were around a LONG time ago, and I was one of the original members, and have a grandfather account that is amazingly cheap.
    They support hundreds of devices and even non-smartphones, but left WP7 alone.  First claiming it was because of 'technology' differences, and Microsoft told them just to use the same method they did with ZuneHD at the very least.  However, that no longer was good enough, and then they wanted to build the full audible store App on the device, and then have one excuse after another, as they would rather see the Kindle product line sell.
    The whole 'politics' portion of this is the Amazon aspect. Prior to Amazon, Audible and Microsoft had a good relationship.  Which is why the whole story is almost a kill the father tale, as Audible's content protection that allowed them to secure books and gain publisher's confidence in releasing digital audio books was from Microsoft.
    Skip ahead past the Amazon deal with Audible, and while still using portions of Microsoft audio technology for content protection, they keep giving Microsoft the cold shoulder when it comes to WP7.
    So a company built around a Microsoft audio codec and protection technology, doesn't provide a way for customers to play their books on the only phone in the world that hastheir originating  'native' audio and content protection codecs built in.
    There are a lot of forces at play in technology, and sometimes it isn't even the companies you see, but behind the scenes deals and flat out 'revenge' from companies controlled by CEOs with egos that get out of check. 
    There are politics and religion, that often has nothing to do with technology or even their own personal dealins with companies, they just buy into a belief system that one company or another is bad, and will do whatever they can to hurt them. 
    I am curious if Pandora as trying to get picked up by Google or Apple or still may be wanting to be, as often an weird 'anti-xyz' company policy comes from behind the scences deals in progresss.  (Like Motorola giving Microsoft the shove off, because they knew the Google deal was upcoming.)
  • They may be looking into vetting picked up by google, but an email I received from Pandora regarding a complaint I filed about hem not caring about the WP community states that they are not placing any funds into a failing company. That was verbatim btw. Even still, the CEO believes that WP is a failing system and would only make an app for WP if WP becomes a major hitter. I'll be blunt and day it, it's complete political bullshit. And for them to go on and say that WP is a failing company is pulling the trigger before having all the facts. Mug like today's Republicans, not seeing the facts, and mist of all; give props to those that deserve it.
  • They invested in Palm & RIM and not Microsoft? Wow, they sure can pick the winners.
  • My first instinct was to stop using Pandora in protest of their practices. Then I realized that sucking their resources with an unofficial app while the developers profit from it is a much better revenge. I will be playing Pandora round the clock on WiFi with the sound muted. If I had the ability they would be getting DDoS'd right now.
  • These guys are mega stupid, ala MySpace before the Facebook invasion.
    They're under attack from Apple, google, amazon, spotify, all the better free streaming services and internet radios and "Woodstock" or whatever Zune will become.
    No xbox app cutting of millios of possible customers.
    The real kicker is Microsoft is specifically targeting Pandora alternates with $ and promotion and from the leaked partner slides had Pandora specifically listed.
  • Where are these partner slides?
    I'm done with Pandora anyway. Just use Tune-In now.
  • I had a Pandora One subscription that was due for renewal. With the lack of this support, it's bye-bye Pandora. Hello Zune (or whatever you're planning to morph into.
  • Glad to hear it. I wish more people could see the light. My friend just got a Lumia 900 and bought the paid version of MetroRadio since he uses Pandora all the time, and has been complaining incessantly since the API change broke it.
    I've had a Zune Pass for nearly two years, and never understood what the hype around Pandora was all about. Rather than be limited to skipping certain songs, or listening to (albeit unobtrusive) ads; I pay $12/month and can listen to anything I want in any order, listen to a radio-like experience with Smart DJ, stream music to my Xbox, Windows Phone, or any PC with an Internet connection, and I get to keep 10 songs every month. All that with absolutely no advertising. Even without the song credits, at $10/month it's still the best deal in music. I'd never get Spotify, Pandora, or one of the other clones after using this service. I just hope Microsoft doesn't ruin/neuter it again, like they did last year by eliminating the song credits option at $12-$15/month.
  • Zune Pass finally came to Australia this year. They charge us $5 more, and we can't keep anythig :/
  • The update for MetroRadio Pro works now! Ps. Thank you WPcentral for the credit!
  • Zune + Spotify = F**k Pandora.
  • There is no shortage of ways to get music on Windows Phone.
  • I don't really understand why Pandora is such a big deal to people anyways...aren't there a million of these things??? =[~)
  • Time invested, you already made your radio satations, you have already liked and disliekd countless songs, etc.Going to a new service and starting over can seem like a huge hurdle.
    Howerver, the recent quality of pandora's selection has driven me away from them. I barely ever listen to them anymore. I have a radio station that will play ~2-3 songs that I have liked or that fit the genre of the sation, and then when it thinks im not paying attention puts in some random songs which have nothign to do with the sation, and will keep doing so. 
  • The Slicker Slacker Radio is a great option here. 
  • While I do use most of the alternatives to Pandora and I had been using the ad version as one of the music sources, I picked up the paid version just to support the dev.
  • I don't get it!!!
    Wp7 has a lot of alternatives when it comes to music streaming..
    WHI CARES!!!
  • You should get it though. People have preferences and ecosystems they are familiar with and locked into. It's what they feel comfortable with not necessarily what's better. You can't tell everyone "Sorry, Pandora is lame anwyays you should try something else". It's better to give USERS the choice and then let the best service win. Yeah, I get that there are alternatives but Windows Phone won't necessarily win converts by telling those users to basically go to hell and switch.
  • Agreed.  WP7 has a lot, but there are people that want their 'favorite' stuff.
    Instead of telling WP7 users to not use Pandora, the best advice, as I posted below, is to just tell them WP7 doesn't need an App like Android and iOS does. 
    Simply open the Pandora web stie, and play your music, IE9 and WP7 are smart see that 'audio' is playing from the site, adds basic controsl to the integrated media player, and keeps the pandora website/stream active in the background instead of closing/suspending it.
    (Works great with any site that use HTML5 audio - which thankfully more sites are moving to and away from the Flash players.)
    This also goes back to the Apple recreating the web into Apps debate, when you have a smart browser that can run sites like 'Apps' why should websites have to provide a dedicated App when their website provide the functionality. 
    As more Sites use the HTML5 concepts, especially with content flow, we should see more websites that are also Apps on devices that are just as fast and indistinguishable from a regular App.  IE9 has helped push this metaphor on the desktop with 'pinned' sites and 'Web Apps', and it also follows on WP7, where it can render HTML5 graphically rich content very fast (yes still faster than Chrome/Safari)
    When IE9 was rebuilt, the paradigm shift of the project was that instead of creating a document/content display engine, they changed the thinking and created a compiler/runtime engine for web content. So that a lot of HTML and CSS and other non-javascript items are treated like code, and are 'compiled' and ran instead of 'displayed'.  This is how IE9 could drop 'closer' to the hardware as they called it.
  • Well, I guess people who don't want to shell out $10 a month for a music service like Zune or Spotify. Or perhaps they think Pandora has a better and more updated music collection than the other free alternatives like and Slacker. Count me in that group.
  • Seriously Pandora? You are in the internet business, build your apps for all devices or STFU if people come up with a work-around.
  • I have been on the fence of dumping pandora for a long time.. I just cannot read any more of these articles and support them.
    Goodbye Pandora. I am writing a nasty letter explaining why I am leaving and here I come Spotify...
  • I have contacted Pandora a few times asking for Win Phone support.  They are very nice however they respond with mostly vague answers.  I get the feeling there is an anti-microsoft big wig in the company that is biased.  Too bad.
  • The supposed reason is not what you state. Sorry, most companies are not "anti X" they simply have either limited resources or certain requirements. In this case, Pandora evidently wants their ads to show in the player controls (near the top when you hit the volume rocker) and not the app. Windows Phone can't do that so they won't play because their business model isn't supported. If true, that's a semi-legit reason (even if you disagree with it or find it dumb).
  • Are you certain the other platforms all behave that way?
  • I have Slacker and Zune Pass on my phone. Pandora isn't even important to me. But it angers me to see Pandora say things like "3rd party apps are violating our terms of service" in the same breath as "we are not going to develop for WP".
    Among iPhone and Android, Pandora has created apps for BlackBerry and PalmOS, yet they don't want to produce a WP app..
  • Tip...
    One nice feature of WP7 is that any audio content or HTML5 audio content, integrates into the phone's media player. So for pandora, just go to their website:  on WP7, and play whatever you like. It will continue to play in the background, and works better than some dedicated Music Apps.
    There are two itneresting things about this feature of WP7
    The first is that it lets you control the audio content stream from the drop down media player (hit volume key, lock screen, etc.)  You can play, pause, and on some sites, even use the next and previous buttons. The second, and most important, is the WP7 will 'realize' that the IE9 browser is playing audio, so when you flip to other applications or back to the home screen, it continues to play in the background, as it sees the audio is active and doesn't suspend the web page or close it.  The last feature is important, as you can run all day long in the background on your WP7.  In contrast to Android, that will suspend the web page/browser even when it is playing audio content.  **
    Because of how IE9 and WP7 handle audio and HTML5 audio content, this may be one reason Pandora is not considering a dedicated App, as they just focus on their website, and WP7 users get all the site features without an App. *
    * Pandora needs to inform users about this better for WP7, and Microsoft and others needs to point this out about WP7 more often, as it is these little touches that makes WP7 a nice platform for even web developers that don't want to create offline Apps.
    ** Android suspends and then refreshes web pages even when it is not running out RAM, which is a pain for other things, like filling out a Web form, flipping to your notes and back to the web page and it refreshing the page, and erasing your place on the web form and/or progress if the web site sees the page refresh as new  session.   (Sadly this reminds people of the Netscape 4 days when just 'resizing' the browser window would refresh the page, where IE4 did not.  This was one of the little quirky things that drove people crazy and why they dumped Netscape in favor of IE4.)
    PS  As for Pandora, I prefer Zune Pass, as you have far more features as you can stream smart mixes and playlists, stream specific content - 'aka Cloud', as well as download content to play when offline, in addition to the non-pass features which is like the traditional iTunes model of buy songs as unprotected MP3s and download them.
  • It's too bad the Slacker app on WP7 pales in comparison to every other platform. Its vastly superior to Pandora.
  • I still can't get passed the screen of no end. Anyone else having this issue?
  • Quit Pandora for this very reason. Sent a letter to cancel my account the other day. I'm on now and loving it. This and the fm receiver on the L900 is a killer combination.
  • Thanks for the update at the bottom I thought my phone was being stupid.
  • WPandora down also;-(
  • Pandora who??  With iHeartRadio, SlackerRadio, Zune, Spotify....Pandora??  why?
  • wtf pandora? really? really? the windows platfor has been around 2 years and you are probably the LAST streaming radio app to come on board REALLY? why do you hate windows phone so much? do you realize how your lack of participation in the windows platform makes your opinion obvious? really? why you dont you just come out and say you refuse to support windows!
  • Oh, come on, works fine, doesn't it? Not to speak of the free mix radio in Nokia Music. Skip the fuss.
  • What's going on with the free version? I still haven't received notice of an update.
  • Having the same issue.  The Markeplace shows version 5.0 but it looks like that version still get stuck and the initializing screen.