I once had a banquet of streaming radio, now I have only crumbs.
June 8, 2010 11:54 AM   Subscribe

What is at fault for Last.fm and Pandora's terrible reliability on my Android phone, and is there anything I can do about it?

I've had a Nexus One for about 2 months. One of the most exciting things things I discovered after getting it what that I could use it to listen to Last.fm and Pandora in my car. I used both services for about a month with very little problems. I would listen to it on the way home from work, and either program would play almost non-stop during the entire drive. When I did pass through a small area that I knew to be a dead spot, the radio would pause, but then when the connection got stronger or was reestablished, the radio would resume. It was great!

Fast forward to now. For the past... I dunno, 3 weeks?...reliability for both Pandora and Last.fm has been TERRIBLE. I've been doing the exact same thing I was before, along the same route, and most of the time the radio will stop before it even gets through an entire song. In the rare event that Last.fm does play an entire song, it never goes on to the next one. After stopping, each service will wait for about a minute before gives me it's own error message. Last.fm says "there was an error during playback, please try again later". Pandora says "unable to retrieve music from Pandora.com".

Just to see if it would make any difference, I tried to listen to last.fm on Android at my desk at work one day. The performance was pretty similar to what I experienced in the car. It did get through 2 songs once, but generally it would lose connection and die 75-100% of the through the first song.

FWIW, other network-intensive operations seem to work pretty well, including downloading MP3s, watching youtube, etc.

I know most of the time I'm streaming over a cell network in a moving vehicle and I shouldn't expect perfection, but it just puzzles me that it would work fine for a month and then stop. I also know a lot of things have/might have changed during the last 2 months. Last.fm and Pandora have both been updated several times. My Nexus One was updated from Android 2.1 to 2.2 (although I'm pretty sure the problem started before that), the weather's gotten warmer, T-Mobile might have changed something... who knows. I might be powerless here but just in case anybody had any ideas I thought I'd throw this out there.

Vital Stats:
Phone: Nexus One
OS: Android 2.2
Carrier: T-Mobile
Location: Farmington, MI, USA and surrounding area
Problem: Last.fm and Pandora don't work for more than a minute or so, especially in the car.

Any ideas? Thanks!
posted by Vorteks to Technology (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Not sure this helps, but FWIW, I use pandora with a nexus one (2.1), and have occasionally, but rarely, had problems with it. Maybe once per 3-4 hours of listening? Half the time I have to kill the task and restart, half the time I just click track-forward and it sorts itself out. This is all stationary (coffee shop or office) listening, a mix of wifi and just 3G.

I haven't noticed more errors recently.
posted by genug at 12:25 PM on June 8, 2010

pure anecdote, but I regularly use Pandora in the same fashion on my Palm Pre (over Sprint's network) and haven't experienced any problems. So it's unlikely the fault lies with their site or service.

Has T-Mobile had a sudden increase in data-rich plans / phones sold lately? Might be a problem similar to what ATT suffers in New York where iphone use is heavy.
posted by oblio_one at 12:42 PM on June 8, 2010

Best answer: might be a 2.2 issue... you know the build that was leaked was meant for Google's internal testing and wasn't considered ready for general release yet... and the start of your problems coincide with when 2.2 was leaked. I too am running this leaked build on my nexus one and I've seen more connection timeouts and problems establishing a data connection quickly after switching from 3g to Edge or GPRS. I suspect if you downgraded back to 2.1 all your connection problems would go away.

I haven't been annoyed with the small bugs I've seen in Froyo to downgrade, but I really expect them to be fixed when the official 2.2 build gets pushed out OTA.
posted by jrishel at 12:45 PM on June 8, 2010

Response by poster: @jrishel - I'm afraid that just might be the case, although I'm hoping not. If it is, then I'll wait it out, since that would be the only problem I've experienced since upgrading, and I love the new features too much to give them up (Wi-Fi hotspot, YEAH!).

I'm hoping though that there's some kind of settings tweak that I could do, or hidden configuration file I could modify. Y'know drag some secret "3G radio power when docked" slider up to 100%, or uncheck the "periodically drop connection" box.
posted by Vorteks at 1:21 PM on June 8, 2010

Another data point: Motorola Droid running 2.1 on Verizon and using Pandora, Last.fm and Slacker in the car on a regular basis. All seem to work just fine.

You may want to consider trying Slacker Radio. They have a free trial of their station caching service, which might be the answer to your troubles. FWIW, I think Slacker sounds the best in my car and I like the fact that you can ban artists as well as individual songs (haha byebye John Mayer).
posted by bristolcat at 4:53 PM on June 8, 2010

Best answer: I've got pretty much the same setup as you, and some of the same problems. I've found streaming radio performance on Froyo pretty awful (I use the Radio time app - which is in every other respect completely wonderful) and at the moment am 'going back' to Cyanogen. The test version of 5.0.8, now Test 4, works with the Froyo radio, so the compatibility issues aren't as bad as they were before and switching from one to the other is possible (if a bit tiresome).

Just to confuse matters there seem to be two Froyo radio.img in the wild at the moment. radio- and You can find all of these things by intelligently reviewing this thread on XDA. Careful flashing the radio, it's the one thing you don't want to get wrong.

This new Cyanogen seems more stable with radio performance. I did my commute today with not a drop - although I'm in a very strong 3G area so it's not saying much. Personally, although this is nothing but a hunch, I think the problems with streaming are to do with the kernel. I've noticed streaming performance deteriorate with every latest and greatest kernel. I'm also very vexed - although you don't mention this - by the complete cutting out that occurs on WiFi when the screen shuts off.

I'll keep testing different combinations and let you know if I find anything useful. It was wonderful, now it's a bit irritating. Perhaps we should just have stuck with stock - but where's the fun in that?
posted by grahamwell at 8:21 AM on June 10, 2010

FRF72 was leaked a few days ago, and seems to have fixed a bunch of the reception issues I have seen.
posted by jrishel at 10:07 AM on June 22, 2010

Response by poster: I just installed FRF72 today. I'll be testing Last.fm in my car later to see if it helps.
posted by Vorteks at 1:09 PM on June 22, 2010

Response by poster: FRF72 seems to have greatly improved the situation. So I guess the original problem was indeed a Froyo problem. I guess it serves me right for installing leaked pre-release software.
posted by Vorteks at 1:56 PM on June 23, 2010

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