Today at an event in Austin at SXSW, subscription music streaming service Rdio showed off a completely overhauled design for its web and desktop apps. It's a big visual change — and it rolls out today to all subscribers — and the company claims it's got big speed, social, and stability updates here. Rdio head of design Wilson Miner said, "We went back to ground zero and rethought the whole user experience from the ground up to put the focus 100% on music and people."
For the new design, Miner said, "the focus is much more on the content, and a lot less on chrome and navigation." Most clearly, all of your playlists are now centralized in the left rail ("People Sidebar"), much like Spotify or iTunes. On the right side, like Facebook's Ticker, you'll see suggested followers and the music listening activity of your network. Previously, users needed to click around a lot to move between different views, and the new design goes a long way towards simplifying the UI to make key features just a single click away.
Playlist management has been improved sitewide. First, for users that have been asking for it for ages, Rdio is finally adding the ability to add an entire album to a playlist, so you'll no longer have to rely on a Chrome extension. You can finally create and share private playlists with a select group of friends. Rdio's new drag and drop functionality lets you easily move albums between playlists and your collection, without having to click the contextual menu on each album.
There's a range of other new social features as well: hovering over an album now reveals everyone else in your network that has listened to it. You can drag and drop albums onto friends in order to share. Drag and drop is here too, and you can share playlists with friends by dragging an album onto their profile image. Heavy Rotation is no longer going to be a black whole of recommendations that aren't explicitly tied to your network — in other words, you can now see exactly who on a multi-day Van Morrison discography binge.
To get the new Rdio, login to Rdio's site click your name at the top right, and navigate to "Try New Rdio" or you may soon see a bar at the top of the site offering to join. Find out more at the official Rdio blog.