Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Show HN: I wanted better offline music on the iPhone, so I made Doppler (brushedtype.co)
118 points by edwellbrook 11 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 121 comments

I sincerely cannot tell how this is different from the Music app that I already use on my iPhone other than the color-matching background stuff.

- Minimal design: The 'now playing' drawer in the screenshot looks nearly the exact same as the Music 'now playing' drawer. If anything it has more text for buttons than the Music app.

- Adapts to my music: The background color changes?

- Import my music: Ok, but with Music app I don't have to do that.

- Search artists, albums and songs: Ok, but I can already do that with Music app.

- Edit and reorder listen queue: Ok, but I can already do that with Music app.

There is a wealth of comment online and here on HN about the inadequacies of the native music app. If you are enjoying the iOS music app you probably dont:

- sync the library to a local machine

- have any songs in your library that are unavailable via streaming service

- use custom playlists that are organized on a desktop machine

- listen to music by Genre

- don’t mind authenticating all the time

All of the above features are available in the Music app -- and the last one is not an issue.

You no longer have that banner("Sign up to Apple Music") everywhere. Since the streaming service was launched the Music app became unusuable.

>I sincerely cannot tell how this is different from the Music app that I already use on my iPhone other than the color-matching background stuff.

Especially since the Music app already does "the color-matching background stuff":


Ah thank you. I guess I spend more time listening to the Music app than looking at it.

Oof. My first day back on HN in a while. Forgot how tough the crowd is around here!

My thoughts exactly.

I think the offline claim should be explained a bit better. Like does that mean I can get my old MP3 files to the app without stupid iTunes sync? Does it support "File sharing" so the app is shown in iTunes and I can drag and drop my MP3 files to its storage?

> I can get my old MP3 files to the app without stupid iTunes sync? Does it support "File sharing" so the app is shown in iTunes and I can drag and drop my MP3 files to its storage?

That’s what I want to know too. My biggest problem is having iTunes in the middle.

Look into waltr: https://softorino.com/waltr/

It’s perfect at what it does.

This looks great. I actually wood prefer a third party app though because using the stock apps means that audio auto plays when connecting to some Bluetooth devices. It drives me insane that every time I get in my car some audiobook I was listening to starts auto playing.

Actually, that's why I bought an Android device. I got enough of this iTunes bs and searching for 3rd party apps to do something as simple as copying an MP3 file or e-book from my computer. And still, I have to buy and install some software as Apple want to make it as difficult as possible not to have them as the intermediary. So now I carry two: iPhone for general use and Android for listening to music, reading e-books and many other things.

Are you aware of a Linux-supported app that provides the same functionality for iOS devices?

Thank you!

Doppler only supports importing from Music.app which is synced with iTunes at the moment. Importing from other sources is coming soon (within the next couple of months)!

So there is a plan to add "Application supports iTunes file sharing" (UIFileSharingEnabled)?

I’ve used iMazing and FileApp Pro on iOS for years and years - I had ripped hundreds of CDs at a reasonably high bitrate with EAC not long after that first became possible on Windows - wanted to bring them over just as they were - once that’s all set up, it’s just drag and done - bonus, same folders dragged to a tiny flash drive on my keychain and I can plug it into hotel TVs, many rental cars, friends’ audio systems, etc.

the syncing to desktop library is a key feature for me, please address this in your FAQ

I use iTunes 10.6.3 and sync to an iPod.

That keeps track of play counts on both devices, lets me make smart playlists and playlist folders, and syncs music, contacts, and calendars all over USB without any cloud services prying into my personal data.

Apple went from being a leader in the music-listening industry with excellent UX to trying to compete with Spotify and YouTube, who are frankly not even that great (e.g. trying to keep playing a song in the background).

Flash memory was small when the iPhone came out in 2007, so everything moved to streaming. Now the capacities are finally big enough again (e.g. 128GB iPhone SE), Apple's broken their sync services.

I like having play counts, ratings, and playlists, and I like that I've continually built up my music library since the days of Soundjam MP for the Rio 600.

Doppler is trying to put a new theme on Finder's MP3 playing feature, but it's not the syncing library manager that I need.

I have a standalone MP3 player the size of a matchbox. (Anybody remember matchboxes?)

The battery is good for 15 hours of play, it takes a 128GB microSD card, and it can play FLAC as well as MP3. The buttons are real and tactile and oriented so that you don't have to look at it to figure them out. It appears as a USB mass storage device with a FAT32 filesystem, so every computer I've used in the last 20 years can put music on it. If you put music in directories, it will navigate the directory structure. If you build m3u playlists, it will use those. You can ask for a random shuffle of all tracks or inside a directory.

It doesn't have play counts or ratings. If you have a USB3 microSD reader, that's faster than updating directly through the USB2 interface.

Also, it's running an open-source alternative firmware called Rockbox.

Please, I have been looking for a descent music player for a while (since my Creative Zen had a hard drive failure). Did you get yours new or used (if so, which brand? how much money? where from?), did you hack it together your self (if so how)?

Probably a Sansa Clip or similar (not too familiar with their current model lineup but it roughly mirrors my experience with them back when I used one).

I own several Clip Plus models. They're great... and discontinued.

rockbox.org firmware takes about three minutes to install, and can be uninstalled at any time.

>Apple went from being a leader in the music-listening industry with excellent UX to trying to compete with Spotify and YouTube, who are frankly not even that great

They might "not even be that great", but they are where all the listeners and the money are.

Ripping, listening to non-streaming music, etc, is becoming rapidly a hobbyist thing for older generations and a minority of hipsters. The whole rise in music industry profits in the last years was in the streaming area, purchases and digital downloads are down.

So anybody touting some specialized device, that takes ripped or bought mp3s, etc, is mostly living in the past as far as the market is concerned.

>They might "not even be that great", but they are where all the listeners and the money are.

Thats true I think. Or maybe people just stopped buying music and Apple had to figure out another way to make money. It wouldn't make sense for them to invest in features that made non-streaming easier or more appealing to consumers. I noticed this very recently on a road trip where somebody mentioned it was going to be boring without music since they were out of data. I was confused for a second because I guess I'm the older/hipster dude, I've always thought of streaming as a doubly wasteful model where you lose battery life along with data.

> I've always thought of streaming as a doubly wasteful model where you lose battery life along with data.

Exactly! I was a streamer too, but then I switched to flip phone. So now I think I'm even hipstery than you.

Basically, no music for me except good old fashioned radio. And London Grammar on YouTube.

> I use iTunes 10.6.3 and sync to an iPod.

> That keeps track of play counts on both devices, lets me make smart playlists and playlist folders, and syncs music, contacts, and calendars all over USB without any cloud services prying into my personal data.

I use the latest version of iTunes and an iPhone with the latest iOS on it, and still use them in exactly the same way you describe. Like you, I prefer to have complete control over my own data, without passing it through third-party cloud services. So far, Apple has not taken away the ability to do this, despite their heavy marketing push for iCloud. (I literally have never used iCloud at all for anything, ever.)

I use whatever the latest version of iTunes is and sync to an iPhone X over my personal Wi-Fi connection. For whatever reason their default sync is very bad. If you instead put all your iTunes music in a playlist and choose the option to sync only that playlist it works nearly perfectly. I've been using this method since the iPhone 4s came out and have only had issues syncing maybe once or twice a year. I sync a few times per month.

does this method allow other playlists to sync as well? it sounds like you have only 1 playlist on your iOS device.

You can sync as many playlists as you want. Its honesly the best way to put music into the device.

How does Doppler compare with Cesium? I've been using Cesium for the past couple of years and have been pretty happy, though like with any app improvements can be made. I agree with you the iTunes app is not good for simply playing music.

Define "better offline music". I'm sure it has a great UX, but Apple's music app already gives me a pretty decent experience.

Honestly, I'll continue using that unless "better" is substantial.

I bought the app. A few ideas:

- When importing, it would be great to see that "importing" is not a copy of the exact same data, but rather a reference or link (like a symlink). I have 40 gb of music on my iPhone. I don't want to double that by using your app.

- Needs a nicer looking app logo.

- Needs a cooler app name that is more original than "Doppler".

This app page says nothing. It's just a few screenshots and some generic text.

Your "support page" is an email address, and doesn't actually contain any information on the app.

If you're going to show us something and ask us to buy your app, then put a little more care into your launch.

Does apple still reject third party apps that are too similar to existing first party apps?

They allow Spotify soooooo.....

Depends on what mood they're in

Where do you get the music from though?

"Where do you get the music from though?"

I personally download actual mp3 files from Amazon (not amazon "music" but just purchase actual tracks). In fact, I continue to be pleasantly surprised that in 2018 one of the big providers is doing something as simple and friendly as this: selling me unprotected, plain old mp3 files.

However, they are compressed mp3 files and not suitable for future transformation so if there is an album that I want, I will still purchase the actual CD and rip it to the full WAV/PCM.

My system is a mac pro (2009) which still has an optical drive. I use the (excellent) 'abcde'[1] tool to rip the CDs. I particularly like the fact that it pops up a 'vi' session with the gracenote/cddb/metadata so I can quickly "fix" the usually braindead cddb entry right in the workflow.

[1] http://www.andrews-corner.org/linux/abcde/index.html

The files you get from iTunes are also unprotected. Artists can choose to offer lossless format, in which case iTunes will give you the files in their proprietary format ALAC, but there is still no DRM and you can easily convert to FLAC/WAV.

At the moment it imports from the Music.app (so whatever you've synced with iTunes). Adding more providers in the next few months

I didn't realise you could have standalone music files in the Music any more! I thought it was all streaming Apple Music now. I wouldn't even know where to get standalone music files from.

Just drag the music files from your library to your plugged-in iDevice in iFumes on the Mac. You can also buy and download them on-device with the iTunes Store app.

You can still buy them from Bandcamp, Qobuz or even buy it on iTunes. What are you trying to imply?

> What are you trying to imply?

That I didn't know about any of those services? I thought everything was streaming these days. What are you trying to imply that I'm trying to imply?

I thought you were implying that the only way to get music files (after disregarding CDs as you don't have a drive) these days was to download them from unofficial sources. Not streaming music files was the standard for a long time so I was a bit surprised about the question.

That's usually a point that comes up for products like Plex etc.

I don't think they were implying anything. I think so many people today stream that the idea of downloading mp3s is rather foreign.

Google play music allows downloading the mp3, but only twice.

The old way?

CDs? I don't own a CD drive any more and doubt many people do either.

You can still buy and download music files.

I have a large mp3 library and have used Marvis for over a year. Marvis is great and extremely customizable, but it has a few bugs and the developer has abandoned the app. I won't use any music app that doesn't allow shuffling by album. It sucks that Apple bastardized the main music app to promote Apple music; I think that app was at it's best around iOS 7.

You should check out Cesium. I've been using it for the past couple of years. It accesses your music library, so all your music and playlists are there. You can play by album (and shuffle the music) or even play by artist (and shuffle all songs by the artist). You can even play by genre if you so desire. Of course it provides all the typical music queue management facilities as well, but I don't tend to use those too much. I like it's extreme simplicity.

The Apple Music parts can be disabled in Settings. It's not quite as nice as it was back in the day, but I've found that doing that helps to make it closer to how it was.

I don't know if it is technically possible, but a polished, fast app for Apple Music is badly needed!

I didn't know this! I would gladly pay 10x its price, if Doppler supported Apple Music through MusicKit...

So I've been making a music player app called 'Doppi' for years now, I wonder if it served as inspiration? https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/doppi-offline-music-player/i...

This looks great, I'll try it out, congrats!

Now, questions:

Any chance of supporting BS2B (Bauer stereophonic-to-binaural), which VOX player supports?

Do you plan to add, if at all possible, Spotify or VOX Music Cloud as providers?

Do you plan to support 3D Touch? I found the use of Peek on songs (+slide and release on menu options) very useful in Apple Music, and I definitely miss that in Spotify.

Like I always say when I see a music related app submission: Get a lawyer.

It looks pretty awesome by the way, any plans for android?

I'm genuinely curious why you say to get a lawyer for all music apps as I can't really see why this one would necessarily need a lawyer. Are you talking in terms of music licensing issues or patent violations, or other?

Could be patent violations.

A few jobs ago I was working on a video player for an embedded device and the UX team mimicked the CoverFlow interface gimmick.

We had a C&D from Apple within a few months of showing it in public.

I would assume there are other patents. For example, sampling the cover art to decide on the background color. Was that an Apple thing? I don't know.

Licensing rights, because if you develop an app that makes money out of playing music it is gonna make some people uncomfortable, even if it the music of the owner of the app. There's gonna be C&D letters even if the app proves to be licit.

This makes no sense, there are no licensing rights involved because no music is being provided. It just plays files provided by the user. Are people sending C&D letters to Sandisk for selling MP3 players, or the hundreds of music player apps for Android?

Agree, it makes no sense, lets see if the OP can tell us if this happens in the future or not. Maybe I'm just scared.

There are already a huge number of apps out there doing the exact same thing, as far as I am aware zero have been sued/threatened out of existence over this.

Android users: I build some tools to Rsync your iTunes library to your phone over WiFi and it's absolutely bulletproof, works great!


Have you considered adding support for Subsonic? http://www.subsonic.org/pages/index.jsp

Manually choosing songs to load onto my phone is a significant chore and my phone can only fit a subset of my collection.

Haven't heard of Subsonic before. Will see what I can do. Cheers!

You should consider opening the 'Now Playing' drawer with an actual, direct gesture instead of a trigger on a detected swipe. The way it is now feels weird for iOS.

I really missed the album artwork color extraction from iTunes and seeing album covers in a reasonable size, so thank you for that.

I guess this is going to be a much better upgrade from my current non-Apple/-cloud music-player, VLC ..

Would like something like VLC, but with a better interface. I copy media to its folder, and then play it.

One pet peeve, on iOS the audio transport buttons are in a different location in music apps than they are on the lock screen. Leading to more fumbling around than needed.

I’d love to have a way to sync my google play music files with apples app. The reason I’m interested in apples app is so that I can fully control it with Seri. This way in the car I can just tell seri what song, artist, album, genre to play.

+1 for Best of Omar S playlist

Does "Import your music and playlists" means it will use my synced iTunes library? I would love this. But I tried to click to find out more, only to find that almost nothing on that landing page is a link.

Yep that's right!

This is gorgeous, thank you for caring about my life. purchased

Would be great if one could skip using iTunes alltogether....like being able to just import Mp3, Flac and m4a files from cloud storage into the app. Is/will this (be) possible with doppler?

I have importing mp3/flac etc working but needs a bit more work before I can release it. Coming very soon!

VLC for iOS can do that now afaik.

Does it support casting to chromecast? This is something that is really missing in the native app. If this is supported I would buy.

+1 - I have a couple Chromecast Audios that I use as a poor-man's Sonos and it works pretty well, but the Spotify iOS app's Chromecast streaming is pretty half-assed. It can only adjust volume when the app is in the forground, and sometimes not even then, sometimes forgets it's streaming and loses sync.

Great idea! I'll add to the roadmap, thanks

funny thing is that apple used to have good offline music support that it has since butchered.

GoodReader on iOS can synchronize offline files via SSH and play audio/video.

Which features did you miss from the stock app / Apple Music?

I find Apple's music app on iOS terribly hard to use. It didn't used to be this way. I struggle to do basic things, like just playing the songs in order on an album! Sounds silly, but there are so many buttons that sweep away to different screens, and it's not at all clear what you are doing.

Now I just use GoodReader to store and play back all offline albums, since it's just a file directory and I can just play the tracks in the order they are stored.

When you're looking at an album in Music, there's a play button right above the song list that will play it in order and should disable any previously enabled shuffle mode. It just goes off of whatever iTunes metadata is setup, so if that is correct, it'll play in order.

I have this problem with Apple's podcast player[0]. They really didn't make it intuitive at all.

[0] Pocketcasts solves that problem, though.

What the heck, why did I think Pocket Casts wasn't available on iOS? I've used it in the browser and on my Android phone for years...

Does it also display lyrics for songs that have them?

What about it?

A "better offline music on the iPhone".

FLAC support?

  Supports your favourite speakers and headphones Doppler works with AirPods, HomePod and any Bluetooth or AirPlay enabled speaker
But it doesn't require any setup - it comes out of the box. Or put it in another way - I don't see any music app that does not support that.

0 calories water baby!

Still, as a non-iPhone user I actually expect Apple hardware to only work properly with Apple software, I was never able to use airplay on any other software than iTunes (in Windows), it always broke after some time when I did find something that worked on Linux. So perhaps it's not so bad to mention it.

AirServer (http://www.airserver.com) has been working quite well for me for the past few years, though I don’t use it all that much.

It's like putting "Asbestos FREE" on chips bag. It will definitely stand out on the shelf. And it's true also.

I pretty much said “oh come on” out loud when reading that.

Lucky Strike... it's toasted

It's good marketing to outline the fact for a slight competitive advantage.

As always, there is a relevant xkcd. https://xkcd.com/641/

It's not wrong. That works on everyone.

I spent probably a minute more than I should have pondering why it would not.

What is this 'offline' thing I keep hearing about ? Is it something US-specific ?

It's the good old MP3s that you download and send to your phone with iTunes.

But why would I want to if I can just stream them ?

If all the music you want to listen to is available via streaming services than great, but I have a bunch of MP3s that aren't (things ripped from old CDs, music from my friends, music from anti-streaming artists).

With that needlessly arrogant attitude you might be surprised to learn that there's lots of music, new and particularly old, rare material, that has never been available via streaming. Or might disappear one day due to ending licensing deals. I'd estimate that about 20-30% of my collection isn't available via streaming and that includes pieces I do not want to miss.

I understand that this isn't as important to everyone, but as a music enthusiast I refuse to rent my music collection, which I intend to build and maintain for decades to come.

Some people don't have unlimited bits.

or connectivity.

or travel via plane and/or train

Trains have wifi or you can just use 4G.

I never ttavel by plane but I assume they offer wifi too nowadays.

> Trains have wifi

On the WCML, you have to pay ££ for WIFI unless you're in first class and even then it's patchy because the train doesn't always have a clear view for the satellite data.

> or you can just use 4G.

Down the WCML, you're lucky to get even 3G thanks to the combination of poor coverage from cell towers (not much call for them in rural landscapes, really) and the metallised glass they use on the trains.

(They did try per-carriage femtocells but they didn't help.)

If you can't just stream them.

Because that happens.

It happens several times a week when I'm out working in my fields.

Is there a Linux (or wireless) solution for transferring music to my iPhone yet? VLC Player allows for wireless sync via web browser, but it lacks way too many features to be used regularly just for music.

Applications are open for YC Summer 2019

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact