Samsung launches Milk Music

In January, Samsung actually shut down its streaming service for US customers — but now, it's coming back as something completely different. Today the company's introducing Milk Music, a free streaming radio service designed to get people listening to music from any genre in just a few seconds. And for the immediate future, there are no ads to interrupt listening.

Samsung says that Milk Music is an effort to solve common problems in what's become a sea of streaming music services. Those include too many ads and interruptions, long and arduous setup processes, and songs that play too frequently on a given station, says Chris Martinez, Samsung's director of services planning. The company's solution is an app — designed only for its own phones — with a large circular dial in the middle of the screen that you touch to change stations.

The idea for a dial was lifted from physical radio controls, and running your finger around its edge changes the station without any wait for the music to start. To pull off this trick, the service automatically downloads the first eight seconds of every song on the dial, which can display up to nine genres at a time, with individual station's in between. Samsung's mixed this with haptic feedback to give the dial a pleasingly analog feel.

Like many other streaming radio services, you can start a station based on a single song, artist, or genre. And once you're listening to a genre, you can drill down into another menu of sub-genres, like moving from country to bluegrass. You can also change the main genres that show up on the dial.

Using Milk, you get six song skips per hour, per station, a feature that's tracked with a skip button below each song. That's the same amount of skips as Pandora,, and iTunes Radio. You can also bookmark songs you like, and see a viewing history of everything you've listened to. Underneath each station there's also a fine tuning menu, which pulls up from the bottom of the screen and lets you tweak whether you want upcoming songs that play to be popular or obscure, old or new, and whether or not to draw selections from your list of favorites.

All told, there are 13 million tracks in Samsung's streaming library, though that collection really belongs to Slacker Radio, which is powering the app behind the scenes. Despite that, you can't link up to an existing Slacker account to carry over existing tastes and preferences. However, Samsung says the two companies partnered to curate a "spotlight" genre that appears on the dial at all times, and will be home to first listens of new albums and other Milk-exclusive content.

Milk is currently limited to the US, and is only available on a newer selection of Samsung's Galaxy devices — a list that doesn't include tablets. Device owners can download Milk from the Google Play store, but Samsung declined to comment on whether it planned to offer the service preloaded on newer phones.

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