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Discover Last.fm

If you want to explore new music and have limitless options wherever you go, download Zune and then check out the Last.fm app in the Marketplace. If you’re planning to develop an app of your own, visit the App Hub on MSDN.

What is it?

The Last.fm Windows Phone 7 app brings a free personalised radio station to your pocket so that you can listen to any music, anytime, anywhere. Simply choose an artist or ‘tag’ (a musical genre or other keyword), and let Last.fm build an infinite playlist that adapts as it learns your taste over time.

Originally scoped to just play music due to the short deadline, the application has since grown far beyond that with many rich features. As with the Last.fm website, users can ‘love’ tracks to play more similar music, or ‘ban’ a track. They can also view artist information such as their biography or where they’re currently on tour, including venues and ticketing. Users can also view a range of different events – those happening nearby, those recommended based on their musical taste, and those marked as ‘attending’.

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The Last.fm app was developed by Microsoft Consulting Services (MCS) UK working with the Windows Phone product group and the Last.fm team. With just nine weeks before the launch of Windows Phone 7, the project was considered impossible to deliver in such a short time frame. However, MCS UK was up for the challenge and the app hit the Marketplace on 20th October, having taken just six weeks to create.

What were the challenges?

The project was operating against a very short deadline. Most of the development work was done by a single developer with limited Silverlight and Windows Phone 7 experience. The UX was designed by a UX designer in Redmond from Corp. However, designing the UX was a tricky balancing act between the Windows Phone Metro UI principles  and the Last.fm brand guidelines. Finally, developing on pre-release software and platform also presented a challenge. Weekly builds meant that application development had to be both agile and rapid to keep up to date with new features and fixes.

Last words

“Even though the Windows Phone 7 is a new entry to the market, the development technologies (.NET, Silverlight and XNA) have been around a while. The maturity of the development platform dramatically reduced the learning curve to develop for Windows Phone 7 (the complete development guide can be found on MSDN) and the Last.fm application is a great example of this.”, says Kutay Tuna, a Senior Consultant in MCS UK.

“We’re fast establishing MCS UK as having a new competency in Windows Phone 7 application development,”, says Nick Lennox, Engagement Manager. ”This puts us right at the forefront of our latest and most exciting product launch”.