Two new, free apps for iOS music lovers hope to keep the party going on iPhone, iPad and iPod touch systems until SXSW Interactive brings even more software announcements.
Designed to improve the music listening experience, or at least give it a retro vinyl feel, iAlbums attempts to recreate the process of reading liner notes on high-tech mobile devices. By displaying your iTunes library's album covers on a virtual shelf – with the option to organize tunes by artist, track, playlist or genre – the app lets users access and play tracks contained on the gadget. More intriguingly, the program also acts as an aggregator, importing related media on favorite acts and songs, including biographies, reviews, pictures, quotes, lyrics, interviews and videos. Info is compiled from 20 sources, from Wikipedia to AllMusic and Google News, and includes material from bands' own Facebook and Twitter accounts, as well as YouTube clips and lyrics for over 400,000 artists and 200,000 albums.
Using the program, fans can listen to music and browse everything from news articles to live concert performances and interview clips promoting film appearances by favorite musicians, effectively enjoying high-tech liner notes that constantly change and evolve. According to creator I. Album Ltd, the app lets fans "experience the story behind your favorite music" and is compatible with over 600,000 artists, 1 million albums and 10.5 million tracks. A relatively easy way to browse and digest random trivia, it effectively serves as a music player that offers some intriguing extras for those tired of simply humming along. As it is able to spot and automatically retrieve missing album covers and fuel music discovery, it may be worth a download.
The new app the Social Radio for Twitter, which is also free (albeit for a limited time), takes a decidedly different approach, pairing speech recognition capabilities with digital music playback and social networking. Once synchronized with a Twitter account, the program can read incoming tweets aloud while music from iTunes collections, Pandora, Spotify, Rdio, Last.fm SoundCloud, TuneIn and other services plays at lowered volume. Music returns to louder levels when text-to-speech functions are finished reciting hashtags and micro-blogs, and tunes can be played continuously as the app runs in the background. The program, which supports multiple languages including Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese and German, offers occasional glitches when referencing shorthand or Internet slang. However, it does recognize emoticons and, most importantly, lets you enjoy a constant stream of music, stopping the action periodically to provide hands-free notifications.