Which music player would you rather use on your iPad: Apple’s updated Music app, on the left, or Bloom’s Planetary, on the right, which presents your music collection as space?
Sure, Planetary for iPad (free) is pretty, but its design actually makes a fair amount of sense. Your music collection is the universe (obviously); galaxies are formed by playlists or the letters of the alphabet; albums are suns; and songs are planets. Or at least that’s how it looks to us. The interface is reminiscent of the main view from Bjork’s Biophilia app album.
A swipe of the finger sends the view into rotation — and speaking of the view, it’s beautiful. The designers at Bloom Industries (not to be confused with Bloom the generative music app from Brian Eno and Peter Chilvers) clearly spent a lot of time on the graphics for Planetary. When a planet blocks a sun, the lighting reacts accordingly, and the latest version, released in September, includes “new galaxy detail, solar flares, eclipses, atmospheric glow, accretion disks and much more fine detail at planet and moon level.”
However, as a music player, Planetary leaves out several key features.
There’s no AirPlay support, that we could find, which is an astounding omission from any iOS music player. “It looks incredible when you hook your iPad 2 up to a big HDTV or projector using the HDMI accessory,” reads Bloom’s description. You mean, like, using an actual wire? It’s a Thomas Edison solution to a Steve Jobs problem.
Plus, there’s no intelligent filtering. You know how some music player apps use spacial relationships to examine the relationships between artists, and provide recommendations? Not this one — it’s artists, albums, and playlists only.
Also, it crashed a couple of times, which generally doesn’t happen with universes (or music players).
Still, it sure is pretty — and it’s free.