At the risk of starting an all-out comment war about the terrors of third-party music player apps, it must be said: Most third-party music players for the iPhone are not up to par. Close the app, the music stops. Load your entire library, face endless glitches and crashes.
But a new music player app released last week shows some serious potential for a great iPod alternative, maybe even an iPod replacement. With options for skins, editable playlists, and social sharing integration, Amp Music Player is definitely luring me away from my frenemy that is my iPod.
Check out the full review after the jump
The Amp Music Player app allows you to load your entire music library from your iPod to the app, then create an editable queue or playlists that are saved even after you close the app. When playing music within the app, your playlists will also continue to play after you’ve closed the app, creating one of the closest experiences to the iPod yet.
Upon first opening, the app will automatically begin to load your music library as you go through a quick tutorial of how to use all of the features. Amp integrates the same swiping feature used with the iPod to switch from one feature to another, which is demonstrated in the tutorial (though the app is frankly so simple that the tutorial probably isn’t completely necessary).
To create a queue or a new playlist, access the Library feature by swiping through the menu bar at the top, which will display your iPod’s library—including your playlists, artists, albums, and even podcasts and audiobooks. You can select specific songs, whole albums, or all of the music from an artist to add to your Amp playlist, or even open an existing playlist from your iPod and edit and arrange it into a new playlist within Amp. These playlists can be easily edited with controls much like those on any native iPhone app.
Once you’ve created a playlist and have started listening, the features really kick into overdrive. Under the Playing feature (accessed from the top menu bar), you can view information about the current song and artist playing. Watch YouTube videos of the song playing, check out the Wikipedia page for the current artist, or get details on where they’re playing their next concert. Twitter and Facebook sharing options are also included here, where you can seamlessly connect your accounts to the app and update (either manually or automatically) your statuses with what song you’re currently playing. Admittedly, it would be better if there was a way to include a link to the song in your status, but it currently just shows the name of the artist and the song with a music note.
Though you can see where the artist you’re listening to will be playing live next, the Concerts feature goes a bit more in depth by scanning your library to give you a list of which artists are playing near you soon. The feature is powered by BandsInTown and does a great job of quickly organizing a calendar-like list of shows you shouldn’t miss, complete with maps of the venue, show info, more social sharing options, and a link to buy tickets directly. You can also use the Amp Oracle tool to offer up suggestions of other artists playing in your area who might be interested in. I hate to be picky here, but this could be an incredible feature instead of just a great one if the picks were a bit more widespread instead of specifically mainstream artists—after all, isn’t the point to introduce you to more artists of your liking whom you may not have been aware of?
Amp also lets you customize the design of the app with the choice of four skins, which I hope will be expanded on in the coming months. There’s major opportunity here to get artists involved with helping fans create their own custom skins to enjoy their music on, and the ones that are available now frankly don’t cut it.
As for the overall user experience of the app and the player: Loading time, for both the uploading of your library (which you only do upon first opening the app) and when you switch between features is incredibly speedy and glitch-free, even while you have the music player open and streaming a playlist.
Recap & Conclusion
Amp Music Player
Our Grade: A
If you’re looking for a simple, yet more impressive version of the iPod on your iPhone in the form of an app that actually works a good percentage of the time, Amp Music Player is it. Though there’s definitely room for expansion on certain features, the overall user experience and interface are fun, easy to use, and practically flawless. In a nutshell: This is what the iPod should be.