By Harry McCracken | Sunday, March 14, 2010 at 12:02 pm
I’m at the amazing South by Southwest Interactive conference in Austin, where I ran into a couple of folks from the Rhapsody music service who gave me a quick peek of something I’ve been waiting for since Rhapsody hit the iPhone in September: an update to the iPhone app that lets you download music over 3G or Wi-Fi to the phone so plays directly from the handset rather than streaming over the Internet. The company says it’s finishing it up and planning to submit it to the App Store shortly.
Caching music locally guarantees that a song won’t die in midplay if your Internet connection flakes out. It lets you listen in places where the Internet doesn’t go, like most airplanes. And it uses way less battery power. Basically, it should make a $15-per-month Rhapsody to Go subscription look a lot more attractive. (The usual rules of subscription music apply: You can listen all you want as long as you pay the monthly fee, but if you cancel service all the albums you’ve added to your collection go away.)
Once Rhapsody for iPhone does offline music–I’m assuming Apple will approve it without delay–the one feature it’ll lack that you’d want is the ability to play in the background while you use another app. That’ll only happen if Apple enables third-party multitasking. But Rhapsody says that it plans to add music downloading soon to its Android app, which already runs fine in the background.
Here’s a video preview of the iPhone app from Rhapsody: