This installation of This Week in Music Apps brings great redesigns of some of our favorite apps as well as some new music players, an app for playing guitar, ukulele and banjo songs, another great way to discover music via music videos, and more. But first….
- Artiphon: Super-Interesting, Pricey iPhone Instrument
- The Many Faces of Music Video Interactivity
- GIF Spinner Is Turntable.fm for Memes
- Brand New Hype Machine iOS App: Redesigned from Scratch
- Rdio Sharpens Up for iOS, Android: Clean Design, Neat Features
- Forever.fm Plays Beat-Matched Music Without Stopping… Ever
- Reddit Upvotes Tubalr for YouTube Music
- Synesthetic Din: Interactive Urban Sound Experiment for Android
- MusixMatch Revamps Spotify Lyrics App
- Mixta.pe: Share Mixes with Rdio, Spotify Users on iOS
- Just Hear It’s Playlisting App Looks Great, But…
- Hypegram Simplifies Hype Machine on Windows… And Now Mac Too
This minimalist music player might look a bit too simplified at first — but with its swipe controls and alternative navigation, there’s more to In:Play than its simple text interface (pictured right). Swipe down and select the song to play from your library, tap the screen to pause and play, or use the “deep context” feature, which can be a bit tricky to explain, but certainly useful once you get the hang of it. By pressing and holding the currently-playing artist name, album name, or song name, you can make the app play other songs by that artist, songs from that album, or songs in your library.
So if you just watched The Breakfast Club, have been listening to Billy Idol’s cover of “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” and want to hear more of his work, you can click his name and the app will rotate through the Billy Idol songs you have in your library. Additionally, you can double tap to enter the quick selection mode which is yet another mode of navigating through your music library.
Bonus: If you want other people on the subway to see what you’re listening to, this will make it easier.
Hype Machine ($4)
Completely “rewritten by scratch” (which I’m especially excited about, having just written about the importance of not just translating content from medium to medium, but recognizing that each medium has their own strengths), the new Hype Machine app’s design is clean and beautiful. But, like the new Myspace, it’s not just a facelift – there’s a new pane on the left which improves navigation as well as remix filters for the Popular and Latest feeds, which purist listeners who’d rather not have to swim through the sea of remixes and mash-ups.
Miso Music (free, some in-app purchases)
The app really is similar to the popular video game, in that it instructs you to play certain notes, which appear at a speed that keeps you on beat. The microphone of your device picks up the notes you play, so you’ll be able to see whether or not you’re playing in rhythm as the app won’t move on to the next note until you’ve played the correct note. Varying degrees of difficulty are listed next to the song title.
This is not only for the owners of actual musical instruments; Miso Music has partnered with Fender, KoAloha Ukulele, and Deering Banjo to create virtual instruments, available within the app. It’s a pretty great app for those who want to master a string instrument or simply learn a few chords.
Music Speed Changer ($3)
As its name indicates, this app is for changing the pitch and tempo of any song, but it can also oop sections of a song and export anything in WAV or MP3 format. It’s another useful option for musicians who need to slow down songs in order to learn the notes.
Pixi Music Player ($3)
While this app doesn’t offer anything new in terms of music player apps (it has music controls for the lock screen music and an equalizer), it is compatible with Android widgets, which is pretty neat. With a variety of widget sizes and options, ranging from a simple display of the album art, to other versions which include play/pause buttons, song title and artist display, or shuffle and repeat buttons, this music player is a great download for anyone who wants quick access to their music without having to open another app. If you’re not willing to fork over $3 right away, check the trial version.
Audio Glow Music Visualizer (free)
This Android-only music visualizer not only offers pretty, colorful bars that dance to your music, but it also scrobbles to Last.fm and supports Google Music, Rdio, WinAmp, among other player options. You get plenty of options for color schemes, and unlike some other visualization apps, this one displays the artist and track name.
This would have fit well here, but I only just saw it. Oh well. Still in beta mode, Outvinyl.tv serves up a wonderful batch of new music. Choose a genre, and you’ll be able to watch video after video of great new bands featured in videos from the site’s content contributors. If the site plays music you don’t like, simply skip forward (or tag it with an upside-down heart). If you dig what’s playing, save the video for later in your library. And, of course, as with every other thing on the planet these days — and because the site aims to raise awareness of up-and-coming bands — you can easily share your newest find via Facebook, Twitter or email.
Tubalr’s rise to fame thanks to Reddit upvotes was well deserved. The site plays YouTube videos — but before you shoot it down (“So the app is just a middleman between me and YouTube?”) understand that it introduces a feature YouTube arguably should have included years ago: a “similar” button. You can search for a specific artist using the “only” search button, which will bring up results of music from only that artist, or you can discover new music by searching for similar artists. That’s not all – you can create custom playlists and unlike with Spotify, you actually don’t have to create an account in order to start listening. It’s neat, but if you don’t want to take my word for it, maybe one of 18,000+ Reddit users will be able to convince you.
Qwerty Beats (Free)
This web app turns your keyboard into a music-making machine. Each letter is assigned a sound or beat; letters in gray are an assortment of loops, while the yellow keys have some unusual sounds along with the usual snare, cymbals and kick drum. meanwhile, a box labelled “Synth” emits a different noise depending on the location of your mouse inside the box. I’ve come across similar apps which don’t allow for simultaneous keystroke sounds (a.k.a. polyphony), but Qwerty Beats passes the test. Press as many keys as you want because all the sounds will play. The app does a pretty good job of ensuring no single sound drowns out the others.