Review: Twitter #music app

Twitter #music app icon

The Twitter #music app has been getting a lot of hype recently and I wanted to see what it was all about.  There’s been some ‘funny but true’ memes floating about regarding Vine already so I’m hoping that #music can do a bit better.

So I’m a big fan of Twitter.  I love the simplicity of it in comparison to all the other social media sites.  If Geoff Emerick, George Martin and The Beatles taught us nothing else it’s that limitations breed ingenuity.  I think people who find twitters character limit difficult to stick to often have too much to say anyway, and let’s be honest if you didn’t fill your character count up with #FF #LOL #thatswhatshesaid #justsaying  you’d have more space.  (I am entirely guilty of the odd #thatswhatshesaid and for this I apologise.)

#music home page

#music home page

#music is one of those really pretty apps so don’t be put off by the slightly lack-luster app icon.  I felt right at home using the app as soon as I’d downloaded it. Log in and setup was simple.  I have a Spotify account so I used my Spotify details and away it went.  Essentially you have 5 windows; popular, emerging, suggested and now playing.  The last page is a profile page which links in to your Twitter account.  Each page displays iTunes-esque artist profile images which expand on  click. once clicked you can play the artists songs or you can see what they are listening to now.

I don’t need to explain to you the ins and outs of each page, you will figure them out for yourselves, however I’ve noticed that the most vocal twitter artists are pretty much the most featured within popular and you don’t need to be Morgan Freeman in Batman to figure out why that may be.

Now playing window #music

Now playing window #music

In terms of design, for me, they have really nailed it.  I hate badly designed apps almost as much as I hate glitchy apps, but I will get on to that.  I’m a sucker for minutiae so one of my favourite little easter eggs is the  pull down to update animation.   The now playing animations of spinning album artwork is inspired.  It’s like a cross between the DJ app and Shazam. the volume control could do with a bit of the same inspiration but you could argue how exciting can a volume slider be?  The colors the animations, the background have all been carefully thought about and picked for purpose.  I’d go so far as to say that graphically it’s one of my favourite apps, and it makes the standard Twitter app look dull in comparison.  My one bit of design feedback would be to include inertial scroll within the player.  that would have just made it for me but that’s being really picky.

So that’s what I like about the app but other than this I find the whole app a bit pointless for all involved.  Pointless for the end-user, for the artists and for Twitter.  For the few people who like to listen to whats trending, not what they like, and be 1/2 a step ahead before everyone else the app is not pointless.  You literally have Twitters’ highest trending bands right in front of you all the time and if you want to listen to 30 seconds of one of their songs, #music is going to do that for you.  Oh, sorry did I forget to mention that?  Yeah, unless you have a Spotify premium or Rdio account you don’t get to listen to the whole song, just a 30 second preview.  And then you can also listen to what that artist is listening to right now…for 30 seconds.  But it’s ok, I’ve figured it out, the trend listeners, don’t need to hear the whole song they just need to know it’s trending. Once they know it’s trending they can retweet, reblog and re-retweet from their other user account and move onto the next. #FF  in fact you could potentially do away with the song part of #music all together….oh no wait that’s just Twitter…

I like to make my own mind up about music and I found that even the suggested  artists were all artists I knew about or followed. using Twitter #music is a bit like that really annoying, band-wagon jumping friend that everyone has.  They re always saying ‘oh, you have to listen to this band, and this band is so good and OMG I can’t believe you’ve not heard of this band!’  I felt like I was being forced into a corner by @maroon5 , @deadmau5 and other equally vocal tweeters.  Again I say to you, you don’t have to be too switched on to figure out what’s going on here!

...oh ok

…oh ok

Another thing, and it pains me to say this, I found it really glitchy. It’s so pretty and nice to look at but flicking between pages and tapping on artist I found myself accidentally double tapping waiting for the app to respond.  I even gave the app the benefit of the doubt, because I’m nice like that, so I closed all my apps, soft reset the phone and booted up again…same thing. Short of deleting and re-adding the app what can I say?  I even asked a few other users on faster devices than mine and it’s still no better.  You’ve had plenty of time and money thrown at you to get this right the first time round Twitter. Yes I’m sure the inevitable  ‘bug fixes’ update will ‘improve stability issues for some users’ but even the volume bar, oh yes the very same afore-mentioned marvel of GUI design, has strange behavioural issues and I just don’t think that’s acceptable from a company so big.

Finally my last burning question for the guys at  Twitter  inc.  If you  are essentially encouraging users to get a Spotify premium or Rdio account to get the most out of the #music app are you not luring them away from #music?  In essence what you are doing is hanging a musical carrot in front of everyone and saying Spotify/Rdio will give you all this and more!   I just don’t get it and from my own experience and from what others are saying I’m not the only one.

So in summary it’s not going to be for everybody. It is undeniably beautiful and for some people it’s going to fit right into their daily Twitter routines.  For me it is just a lesser version of Spotify and Twitter; telling me things I either know already or didn’t want to know anyway.  I have plenty of ways to waste my time and this isn’t going to be one of them.  Must try harder Twitter.

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