- Robust streaming capabilities
- Good music discovery and radio features
- Pricing in line with competitors
- Facebook account is required
- Frustrating user account problems
- Some minor user interface quirks
- No free trial of mobile app
Free for the app itself
$9.99/month for mobile subscription
MOG is part of a trio of apps--along with Spotify and Rdio--that offer virtually unlimited libraries of music that you can listen to on demand. Just search for the artist, album, or song you want to hear, tap play, and you'll be enjoying new music. All three of these services stream music, rather than download it (though they do offer offline playback), so you need a monthly subscription to maintain your access to their collections.
MOG is perhaps the least-buzzed-about of the three, but it has some powerful features to recommend it. Unfortunately, I ran into some bugs that hindered my using it.
Highest Subscription Required
Along with MOG's virtually unlimited streaming jukebox of over 13 million songs, it lets you create and share playlists, listen to editor's picks, suggests new music based on your preferences, and use a “radio” mode that mixes music together for you Pandora-style. You can also download songs for offline listening, as long as you have a valid subscription.
Like its competitors, MOG offers three subscription levels: free, US$4.99/month, and $9.99/month.
The free plan includes unlimited listening (which is better than Spotify or Rdio) with audio ads. The middle tier removes ads, while the highest level is required to use MOG on your iPhone or iPad. Making the most expensive subscription the one that's required for iOS use is also the same as what Spotify and Rdio do, and both of those services charge the same price. That's perhaps not ideal for the consumer, but there are no better options in this area.
One thing that Rdio offers that I like, but that MOG and Spotify don't, is a free trial of their mobile app. It would be nice to see that here, too, so you can try a little before you buy.
There's no way to create an account or sign up through the app itself, so you have to head to MOG's website, where things get complicated.
MOG is one of the many companies (About.com among them, during the recent Readers' Choice Awards) that have decided to use Facebook's login system for user accounts. On one hand, this is smart. It lets MOG not to have to create or maintain a user-account system in the same way as if they did it from scratch and allows them tight Facebook integration for music sharing and new-customer acquisition. On the other, it requires that you use Facebook, which is not something everyone (myself included) wants to do in all cases.
I'm not interested in sharing a lot of personal information with Facebook, so being forced into using it by an app that's entirely unrelated to Facebook is very frustrating indeed. If I hadn't been reviewing the app, that alone probably would have been a dealbreaker for me.
Still, I charged ahead and logged into MOG using my Facebook. Creating the account was easy, but signing up for the plan with mobile access was a bit harder than I expected. It took me 5 or 6 clicks to get to that point, which seemed excessive.
With that done, though, you'd think I'd be off and running. Not quite. Despite trying to log in to the app using my Facebook account, it didn't work. After many tries, it seems that, when MOG says that it uses my Facebook account to log in, it means it uses only part of my Facebook account.
My Facebook password is very long to keep it secure. That length seemed to cause a problem for MOG, as I was never able to log in to the app with that password. For whatever reason, the MOG website uses Facebook for logins, but the app seems to have a different system, since it doesn't offer a Facebook login. The challenge of actually signing up and using MOG became even greater as I dug deeper. Unlike most services, I got no email confirmation of the creation of my account or of my purchasing a subscription. Perhaps this is because MOG assumes that I already know my account details since they're the same as my Facebook account. However, since MOG appeared to truncate my password, and I got no account confirmation, I didn't know exactly what it had truncated my password to. I tried a few options, but none of these worked.
Thinking I could simply change my password, I headed to the MOG website and logged into my account using my Facebook credentials (why not just use the Facebook login for the app, too? That would have solved my problem). After trying a few other things, I ultimately decided to just act like I'd forgotten my password and needed to reset it. That finally worked and I was able to log into MOG on my phone. All in all, it was one of the most frustrating account-signup processes I've experienced recently. I can't imagine this is a common scenario (otherwise MOG would have trouble getting users), but it can't be a totally unheard of one either, can it?
And it's a shame that it was so hard to log in, because once you do, MOG is a very nice service indeed.
It works exactly how you'd want: search for a song, artist, or album, sift through the results, tap what you want, and you'll be hearing it in no time. The selection available was not only good, but helped me discover an EP by The Old 97's that I didn't know existed--and I was sure I knew (and had) everything they'd released. When a music app can do that for me, that's terrific.
Even more terrific, though, was its ability to keep streaming music even in the face of inconsistent or poor bandwidth. I test streaming music apps on my morning train ride to work because the wireless coverage on my commute is spotty. I want to see how the app performs. MOG had the best performance in this area of any app I've tested so far.
The coverage on my ride has spots where it's strong, spots where it's weak, and one or two deadspots where there's no coverage at all. None of that mattered to MOG. Through the entirety of the one-hour ride, tested at multiple times across multiple days, I never experienced a single delay, skip, or buffering issue. The music simply played back smoothly and sounded good, as if the songs were stored right on my phone. This even held true when my train was delayed for 3-4 minutes at an underground station. This ability to play music smoothly in the face of variable bandwidth was really impressive.
The Bottom Line
There's not a lot to differentiate MOG from its competitors Rdio and Spotify. Their libraries are roughly similar (though each has some exclusive albums and artists), their pricing is the same (with the exception of Rdio's free trial), and they all offer desktop/web and mobile apps. Where they differ is in experience.
The signup experience for MOG was very frustrating, easily the most difficult of the three for me. And that's a shame, because the reliability of the service when used on a mobile device was far and away the best. Rdio's buffering is good, Spotify's is poor, but MOG's is excellent.
I don't imagine everyone, or maybe even most people, will run into the problems I did with their accounts. Assuming you don't, and you're looking for an endless supply of streaming music that can follow virtually anywhere you take your iPhone, give MOG a try.