January App Roundup

The best programs to kick off the new year

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Top 10 App (Photo: Sourced via www.top10.com)

Music app developers are kicking off 2012 with many promising new options for social networks, smartphones and tablet PCs alike.

Looking to springboard off Spotify's online streaming music service, which now supports custom third-party applications, two recently released offerings point towards the platform's potential for sharing and socialization. Top 10 allows users to create and share best-of lists on nearly any topic imaginable, from the greatest Bob Seger tracks to most unexpected Drake cameos, and selections are available for individual viewing or public voting. They can also be posted on social networks, making music discovery more interactive. Fellow app ShareMyPlaylists also promotes the passage of tunes by providing a single, centralized repository in which anyone can post and enjoy personally customized digital mixtapes. With selections ready for browsing by genre or theme, e.g. top Linkin Park tunes or favorite film soundtracks, ShareMyPlaylists provides the option to freely share tracks regardless of whether you're friends on Facebook, Twitter or Spotify.

Concertgoers who favor social media and hate tearing themselves away from the screen may also appreciate Ticketfly's newfound spin on the seat-purchasing process. Via the service's custom app, shoppers can buy tickets for live events without leaving Facebook and keep friends posted on which shows they'll be attending. Installable directly on bands and musician's pages, and powered by Facebook Connect, the service also allows artists heightened online presence. Besides saving musicians the trouble of having to route listeners to external services such as Live Nation or Ticketmaster, the application also lets fans provide free promotion by publicizing performances they'll be attending.

While music creation programs are more common on Apple iOS devices, despite the Android's operating system's massive reach, new option Audiotool Sketch hopes to expand the choices available for download via Android Market. An offshoot of the well-known Web app priced at $0.99, the application simulates two vintage drum machines and an old-school synthesizer. It lets users coax spaced-out beats, rhythms and otherworldly interludes from mobile devices by adjusting virtual knobs, buttons and dials. System requirements, which include a dual-core processor and the Android 3.0 OS, are best suited to tablet PCs and high-end smartphones. But its motion-sensing controls and nostalgic array of bleeps, bloops and thumping percussions should intrigue those looking to relive the 1960s and 1970s sci-fi era.

A free interactive visualizer for iPad, the new version of Thicket (a.k.a. Thicket Reboot) also offers the option to create computerized tracks and art pieces by tapping and swiping the slate's touchscreen. Using the self-styled "audiovisual playground," owners can tug, pinch and pull on lines and shapes to manipulate both sound and graphics, producing eye-catching displays of color in the process. Four individual backing tracks disguised as unique play modes are offered, including optional expansions available via in-app purchase.

This is just an early taste of what the New Year may bring. More innovative music apps, online services and social media solutions are expected to be announced next week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

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