Three features separate Yahoo! Play from its competitors. While other apps feature similar functions, Yahoo brings them together, which certainly has value.
The first feature is song identification. Again, we’ve seen plenty of these apps in the Market, but Yahoo brings it in addition to other features. It also has a continuous feature, so you can let it sit and identify many consecutive songs. The second feature is Facebook and Twitter sharing. My friends and I use the #nowplaying (or #np) hash tag when we want to share what songs we’re currently playing. It doesn’t appear that Yahoo Play adds the hash tag, but it does allow you to easily share your listening tastes with friends and followers.
The biggest of the three features is called Smart Shuffle. The app can identify songs that you like, using your own listening habits. It’s essentially like Pandora for your own music library, though there is no thumbs upping or downing. It just kinda knows. You can use this as a general feature, or you can base it on the song or artist you are currently playing. It would be quite better if Yahoo! had a deal similar to Slacker or Pandora and could supplement your own music library with streaming songs that you don’t yet own. Alas, that does not appear to be a feature of Play.
The app also includes other small features, such as Yahoo! Music news integration. While you’re listening to select artists — that is, popular artists — you can view the latest news about them right from the app. This doesn’t do fans of obscure music much good, but I’m sure that fans of obscure music already have their music playing app picked out and aren’t about to switch. (While I’m certainly guilty of stereotyping here, I do so with first-hand experience. Music snobs tend to be nerds about all aspects of the listening experience, including media player.) The app also scrobbles ot Last.fm, so you can keep track of your listening habits.