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Show HN: iOS music player, like a virtual record collection
52 points by deepdesai on Oct 25, 2017 | hide | past | favorite | 56 comments
1 minute screencast: https://youtu.be/AmDL2QtkoJ4

If you'd like play with it, please send a note with your name and email to betatesting@musicologyapp.com and I will send you an invite (via TestFlight).

If you're the kind of person who listens to albums cover to cover, or would like to manually arrange your records instead of going through a boring alphabetized list, or are just really annoyed with the iOS Music app (like I am), you should check this out!

I don't use iOS (just mpv on my laptop), but this is the sort of well-thought out design that modern software needs. A clear vision followed out through development into a product without sacrificing major features.

Thank you, kind stranger on the internet! :) I actually only recently started learning how to code, this is my first project.

I came here to say the same. I'd love to see Apple implement this style in more of their os and apps.

I can only imagine how much better a calculator, for a start, you could make than Apple's!

Seriously, nice work.

I don’t suppose you’d be able to support Google Music on iOS? I am a big album person, and the number of hoops I have to jump through to find an album to listen to always frustrates me - so this looks great. The problem is most of my music is either ripped to FLAC or on Google Music these days.

If there's enough interest in this, and I have the time to do it, I'd be happy to support it! Apple Music and Spotify would probably be first though. TBH I'd rather build in FLAC support, iPhones have plenty of storage these days.

I like this! I'm not sure what's involved in your beta testing nor do I have any idea what TestFlight is, but I'd like to give it a try.

My purchased music that's actually on my iPhone is somewhat limited (maybe a dozen albums) but I'm always using Spotify and increasingly Apple Music; maybe I'm not quite the user you're targeting at this point.

But I'm very much someone who appreciates albums in whole form and care very much about seeing the artwork/info/etc well, as much as is possible in an app...my main jam is vinyl.

edit: I'd potentially find this even more useful in iPad form, where I could pair it to my stereo and have nice, large graphics.

Apple Music support is absolutely on the roadmap, and so is iPad support! If you haven't already, do send me an email. TestFlight is Apple's platform for doing beta testing, it's super straightforward.

Glad you answered the this point, I'm pretty keen to try any alternative to the white + bold/slab San serif wasteland that is the Apple Music app. The moment they went from one touch on the home screen, to several taps into a sub menu in order to "love" a track i knew the UX team went off the rails. So I'm keen to try new apps that support Apple music, but the majority are just shovelware or borderline malware.

I too am annoyed with the ios music app. And this is a beautiful app you have made here. However, for me I prefer practicality.

I miss the days when the apple music app for ios would display everything in plain text, just like the old ipods.

It made finding music faster, and gave me more retail space on my screen. I dread apps that don't give me this option, and force me to scroll through heavy animations of artwork to find my artist by name.

I don't want to sort and find things by colors.

Maybe a wrong place to ask, but can somebody recommend an opposite of this? I don't care for album covers (at least while listening) and prefer alphabetized lists and a text-only playlist for a main view. With good queue management (like in old Winamp and iOS 10 Music; in 11 they screwed it up).

You might want to try Cesium: http://www.cesium-app.com/

You can hide most images/covers on Cesium. I bought it one or two years ago, use it sometimes instead of the Music.app.

On a side note, one feature I'd wish was in all these players is the ability to pin stuff. I'd like to pin x albums, that's how I listen to them, x albums per month.

I'm looking for same thing but for macOS. People usually recommend Vox, but Vox is absolutely awful. Tiny ass window, that always, ALWAYS, drags songs when I try to scroll.

Try Swinsian: http://swinsian.com. Basically iTunes without any bloat.

I know you're asking about iOS, but for those using Android, I can recommend EZ Folder Player.


Here is the link to the $0.99 ad-free version (rather than in-app purchase) for the lazy:


I personally use Vanilla Music (not specifically minimalist but open source and [ad] free):


Based on recent HN discussions[1], I will recommend (macOS/Unix-like ncurses): https://cmus.github.io or (personal server with minimal-ish [mobile] clients): https://www.musicpd.org

[1] Efficient music players remain elusive | https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14634658 (Jun 2017, 246 comments) +3 similar: https://hn.algolia.com/?query=efficient%20music%20elusive&ty...

Personally I just use the Goodreader app for music, and put my tracks on there and listen that way. Since my collection as a whole is in Dropbox, I can just pull whatever I want down into Goodreader when I want to keep it around on the device for awhile.

I too hate the iOS music app and any other app that attempts to improve the GUI nature of finding and exploring a music collection. I just want my tracks listed and easily jump between them. This app in this thread would seem to increase the amount of time I'd need to find a track; I don't care about all the fancy visuals, I just want to listen to music.

If you want to load and play your own MP3s you could try Tiny Player. App Store: http://itunes.apple.com/app/id1140849233

Thanks, this is somewhat orthogonal to purely UI concerns, but it's very useful to know it exists!

BTW, is it really possible for third-party players to access music from Apple Music?

It is since iOS 11.

That photek 12" is tight.

Would be nice to have curated collections in this app by people whose taste you trust, and to be able to quickly skim through them, like back in the day when you were checking out a stack of vinyl the shop owner would pick out for you.

I like the look and style, and I think you really nailed the vinyl aesthetic. Unfortunately, I've abandoned music on my iPhone in favor of Spotify+Amazon. But, I would love to see this for non-iOS devices. If you could get it to run on a touch screen powered by a Raspberry Pi, I would totally use it for a home jukebox-stlye device. I think the album art elements and other mechanics would be awesome in that regard.

I'm completely ignorant about any iOS music player, having only every seriously used Android, but didn't the first iPhone have such a feature already? Such as showcased in the famous reveal video:


Did it get removed?

Cover Flow, as it was named, was removed during the great Skeuomorphic purge of 2013.

There's an issue with that concept, where the iOS for like 2 or 3 major versions now doesn't show properly artists and album art correctly for a lot of people, including myself. Without that fixed, the workflow and user experience is going to be horrible.

Speaking of TestFlight. Sometimes it's extremely frustrating to send TestFlight invitations to people, and they simply never receive it, or there is a problem with the invitation in some other way. Has anyone else experienced this lately?

I had some issues with this a few months back, and was in contact with apple dev support about it. They investigated the issue and since then it has worked for me.

Not really something I see myself using, sad to say - I have way too much music to ever fit on my phone, which limits my options in practice to those with solid self-hosted streaming support. But I really like the style!

Apple Music support is on the roadmap!

Did you used SceneKit, or UIKit dynamics, or is the physical effects are homemade/keyframe animations?

Very well done!

Edit: On a second thought I would see myself doing it as UICollectionView with a custom layout.

This is definitely a pretty app. I can see from the quick video that you put a lot of effort into. However, it looks just too fiddly for my taste[0].

[0] As in, too many touches required.

Don't mean to be a pushy-car-salesman-types, but I think you should take it for a test drive – your experience might surprise you. One of my explicit goals in designing the app was to get you OUT of the app ASAP, since I don't give a damn about "engagement". Today, the stock iOS music app seems too fiddly to me...

This looks really nice. Am I correct in that it'd work only with apple music currently? Would've loved to test it, but most of my stuff is in spotify...

Actually it only works with local files (as in synced via iTunes) at the moment. Apple Music is on the roadmap, and so is Spotify!

IMHO it's not 100% intuitive that you press the settings button to search. Maybe a separate search button in the top left?

I've considered it! But:

- I really like the idea of one button for "everything else"

- Once you start using the app, I've found that you don't tend to search often, because you just intuitively where things are placed

- It's more fun to browse through your collection and find something you'd forgotten about instead of searching for whatever is "top of mind" at the moment

I like that for once, the records displayed in a music app are tasteful independent productions and not national top charts.

TBH I didn't even realize what I was showing when I recorded the screencast, but I find it painful to listen to mass-manufactured crap :)

"This is different from genres because genres don't really mean anything today." uhh.

For folks like the OP who would categorize Tropical Drums Of Deutschland as "morning music", and respect for that, genres stopped making sense about two decades ago. The release is officially classified as both Jazz, Folk, World and Country but it is really none of the above [1].

[1] https://www.discogs.com/Jan-Schulte-Tropical-Drums-Of-Deutsc...

/side rant

Do you truly mean "iOs" or did you mean "iPhone"? I couldn't care less if an app is an "iOS" app when it doesn't work on my iOS device (iPad AIR 2 with iOS 11).

ps: i'd love to see something like that on iPad. I don't like the builtin player. I used the "track 8" app for a while sadly not updated to iOS 11.

True iPad support is on the roadmap! PS: I also own an iPad, so this is absolutely going to happen at some point.

I also hate it when I get a Windows program and it doesn't work on my 386. After all, it's running Windows 3.11!

Your analogy barely applies to the iPhone / iPad situation. You're talking about APIs accross many generations of an OS, while I'm talking about apps for the same , current OS not supporting different layouts.

edit: rewording my previous comment, yes I am using iOS 11 ... and the AIR 2 is not that much behind anyway.

Don't have the time to be a proper beta tester, but would totally pay to have this app!

If you just wanna get your hands on it, it's already quite stable! And you can totally be an IMproper beta tester :)

Reminds me of the landscape mode of the old iTunes(?) app on the iPhone 3gs.

This is horrible.Its just coverflow except portrait. Nothing 'Beautiful' about it.

This is unduly harsh. And with the organization tools and turntable visualization calling this 'just coverflow' is also incorrect.

I'm assuming you don't find the interface particularly appealing, but do you think that others might? From the comments in this post, it sure seems like it.

The OP was able to articulate an interesting insight into why other music apps were lacking for him (genres aren't a useful grouping mechanism), and build a (beta!) solution. That's beautiful.

From the demo one thing was clear to me: that thought and care went into making this, and that should be respected.

Good work, OP. Keep going.

All of your projects are horrible too!

On people being nice on the internet…

At which release Apple will just stop supporting playing your own mp3? iOS 14-15?

Do people still listen to 'albums'?

Some people, me included, very much do. :)

Edited to add some background:

I feel it gives the tracks more context, especially as for many artists an album isn't just an unordered set of independent tracks but a carefully designed listing experience.

That said, I still like my playlists as well. ;)

Yes, absolutely. To think otherwise is ridiculous and tunnel-visioned.

i prefer a curated musical experience. so live music, playlists i made or that were shared with me, and albums. i don't use any streaming services either.

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