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Rhapsody previews iPhone app with offline playback

updated 03:35 pm EDT, Mon March 15, 2010

Songs downloaded locally for later listening

Rhapsody recently showed off an upcoming version of its iPhone app playing locally-stored content. The updated app downloads songs directly onto the device, enabling users to listen to their playlists even while the handset is disconnected from Wi-Fi and 3G networks.

The company's current App Store offering only allows users to listen to streaming music. Adding a download option would help avoid quality issues in certain locations, such as subways or fringe areas, that lack Internet connections or consistent signals. Local playback provides the added benefit of extending battery life compared to streaming communication.

If users prefer to listen to stored content, they can enable a "force offline" mode which shows the tracks that have already downloaded. The feature is designed to help save battery and avoid roaming charges. The interface also allows users to selectively store particular playlists or tracks.

Rhapsody first announced the upcoming app well before the company separated from RealNetworks. The recent move was believed to have been due to Rhapsody's lackluster performance in the digital distribution business.

The revamped Rhapsody app is expected to be submitted to the App Store "very soon," although it remains unclear if the updated version will be approved by Apple. If it is put on the market, Rhapsody customers will be allowed to maintain their downloaded collections for the entire length of their subscription.

by MacNN Staff



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