Monday, February 17, 2014

iTunes radio hits Australia - whoop de do

OK - so it is exciting that it is here, that weare the second country in the world to get it. But it doesn't do much for me - probably because, as we'll see, I am probably not the target. But I'll comment anyway.

To start with I am not a music streamer for 2 main reasons

  • I have a fairly large music library which is made up of music from classical through rock, pop, electropop, experimental, ambient, electroacoustic, phonography through to labels like Dorobo, Stasisfield, and so on. I have a selection on my phone, on an iPod classic and on my iPhod, plus a backup of the music on a portable drive. So where ever I am I can get music that I want. And I'm an album man, but also like variety
  • Download limits - both at home and on the phone - I don't have enough and it's too expensive to waste on listening to music I might not like when I have what I want.
And for the same reason I don't listen to much music radio - OK I might miss a great new track, but I am pretty sure I'll hear about most somehow.

Then there is the implementation. First, it is through the music app which I have stopped using since they stuffed up the album view - now I have three players on there
  • Ecoute is my player of first choice: it has a nice grid view that shows 12 artists or genres on a 4s, then a small icon list view of albums in alpha order.The player is good & interestingly has dispensed with a volume function - assuming you'll use the buttons or earphones, 
  • Picky is interesting for large libraries and filtering - you can do it by number of songs, and then within an artist sort by name, release. It doesn't have a genre setting, but in Albums you can select genres, including more than one at a time, and
  • the interface of Listen is fascinating, very fluid and simple, but the selection process is difficult - it shows all the albums in a grid which extends alphabetically to the left. Dersigned largely for shuffling.
  • But my main player is Ecoute for music and some podcasts (Pocketcasts for ones that I haven't downloaded in iTunes which I do for ones that I want to put on Carol's iPod).
And then, very little styling seems to have gone into the design. The default block view that a lot of podcast apps use also, for your libraries. I don't think you can change the icon.

Finally, the choice, which seems to be
  • a group - like I like the Beatles but not a whole station!
  • generic chart stations - 70s, 80s and 90s; pop hits, etc
  • genre stations - like ambient. Genres are hard to define anyway, but these are either too broad (like ambient) or refine but not enough - within classical you can't pick 20th century or minimalism
Maybe if you have genius working, or iTunes match, or there is some sort of like/dislike the system might learn my preferences, but I haven't got the time. I would rather say to myself - i need some dirty ambient or some muslimgauze or a bit of atonal classical or some environmental sounds to complement my real world and pick an album or genre or artist from my library.

Like I said, not for me: but I wish they had made it look good! A stand alone app at least.

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