A Powerful, Customizable Platform for Civilized Discussion

Search results for "Ecoute"

Ecoute 2.1 Adds Up Next, Queue Management

Ecoute 2.1

Ecoute 2.1

In my review of Ecoute 2 for iPhone, I noted how the app lacked a proper queue management system to replicate the Up Next feature of iTunes for Mac:

Ecoute has a “Play next” feature, but, alas, there’s no Up Next-like queue management: adding a song to the queue will put it at the top of the queue, not at the bottom after songs you’ve already queued up. On iTunes for Mac, you can either play a song next or add it to Up Next, but Ecoute can only “play next”. Furthermore, the Play Next button is based on another workaround that’s a byproduct of playback managed by the Music app: Ecoute can’t create a real queue in Music, and therefore every time you’ll add a song to the queue you’ll hear a brief interruption as the currently playing song stops and resumes itself. This is a hack, and it works, but it’s not elegant and the app doesn’t have all the queue-related features of iTunes 11, which is unfortunate.

In an otherwise excellent update that made Ecoute 2 my favorite alternative to Apple’s Music app, the lack of Up Next stood out. Fortunately, developers Louka Desroziers and Julien Sagot were already working on improvements to the queue functionality, which are available today in version 2.1 of Ecoute, released on the App Store.

When playing music in Ecoute, you can now choose between “Play Next” and “Add Up Next” from the tap & hold menu; this works for individual songs as well as entire albums or playlists. The way Ecoute’s queue works mirrors iTunes 11: you can play a song immediately after the currently playing one, or you can stack songs at the bottom of the queue.

Up Next can be accessed by tapping the clock icon in the Now Playing screen (which has been redesigned to show blurred album art in the background, like Apple’s Remote app). Songs can be removed and rearranged in the queue, and you can add more through the “+” button in the top left corner. Right now, Ecoute uses the default Music picker to add songs manually to the queue, but the developers confirmed they are working on their own solution.

There are still some bugs and hacks that Ecoute has to employ to work around Apple’s limitations for iTunes Match and queue management on iOS. Overall, though, Up Next is a solid addition to an app that I already considered superior to Music for navigation and responsiveness of the interface. Ecoute is $2.99 on the App Store.

Ecoute 2 Review

Ecoute 2

Ecoute 2

Last year, when we reviewed Ecoute, we called it the best music player for iOS. Apple’s Music app has never been packed with features when compared to iTunes on the Mac, but it’s the app that the majority of people use because it’s free and built into the operating system.

With iOS 7, Apple redesigned the Music app with some questionable choices for artist and album navigation and more advantages over third-party clients through the inclusion of iTunes Radio streaming and a special widget in Control Center to like songs and add them to your wish list. The Music app is, effectively, irreplaceable if you care about iTunes Radio and managing your music and playlists, but I think that the new Ecoute for iOS 7 does several things better than Apple’s app. Read more

Ecoute 1.2 With URL Scheme

Nice update to my favorite iPhone music player: automatic download of missing artwork, iTunes 11-like “Play Next” feature, and a URL scheme (linked above).

We first reviewed Ecoute in August 2012; in October, I added:

The thing I like about Ecoute is that it displays Artists using album thumbnails. The Music app does this only for the Albums view, and then again they’re small thumbnails arranged in a list view. Ecoute is more similar to iTunes’ grid view, which I use on my Mac.

I like the new URL scheme, and especially the search action. I use Rdio on a daily basis, but I keep some albums on my iPhone. With Ecoute 1.2, I can use a Launch Center Pro action to look for a specific artist/album name and view search results for matching artists, albums, and songs. Here’s what it looks like.


Ecoute for iOS

Ecoute for iOS

A while ago our Lukas Hermann published an in-depth review of Ecoute for iOS:

From now on, Ecoute for iOS is my new default music player for iOS. Its UI features every design decision I ever wanted to have on my iPod touch. Plus, it eases up changing and pausing tracks while browsing through your music library, something I often do while I’m on the go. I can’t wait to see this thing on the iPad as well. If you’re a music and design enthusiast like me, or just dislike the system music player on your iPhone or iPod touch, you have to try it out.

Last week, I saw Ecoute had been updated for the iPhone 5, and I decided to give it a try. I’m glad I did, because the app works perfectly for the way I think of browsing my music collection.

The thing I like about Ecoute is that it displays Artists using album thumbnails. The Music app does this only for the Albums view, and then again they’re small thumbnails arranged in a list view. Ecoute is more similar to iTunes’ grid view, which I use on my Mac. When you tap on an album, instead of going deeper into the level views, Ecoute brings up a modal popup that you can dismiss with a swipe – this is not too dissimilar from how the upcoming iTunes 11 will expand albums inline. If you tap on an artist that has multiple albums, a nice animation will “drill down” to show the album thumbnails. Last, when you tap on a song, it starts playing in a bottom bar without opening a new view in the foreground – and that’s exectly all I want from a music app.

Ecoute looks gorgeous on the iPhone 5. If you’re looking for a complete overview of all its features, check out Lukas’ review. For me, Ecoute works better than Apple’s Music app because it reflects the way I tend to browse my music collection.

Ecoute is available at $2.99 on the App Store.


Ecoute Is The Best Music Player For iOS. Period.

Since I started to write about UI design and iOS apps again 5 months ago, I became more and more disappointed with the native music player on my iPod touch. During my research, I found many innovative modifications of the iOS table view, and I often wished that Apple will integrate some of them into their system apps, especially their music player. But since Apple is a company that believes in radical minimalism and coherence throughout its ecosystem, this never happened and also won’t likely happen in the future. I tried out many alternatives like GoodMusic, but no app was able to satisfy both my design and usability needs on my iPod touch. Until yesterday. Yesterday, Pixiapps released Ecoute for iOS.

Ecoute for Mac has been the app Pixiapps focused on during the last years. It is a minimalist, easy to use iTunes replacement with iconic UI and many cool hotkey and playback features. I’m still an iTunes guy, because I need a reliable solution for managing my over-1100-record digital music collection. But Ecoute for Mac was the first app which really made me think about switching my desktop music player. And now, Ecoute debuts on the iPhone. Although the app is promoted as “Ecoute for iOS”, there is no iPad version available yet. For me this is not really a problem — I like the semi-skeuomorphic design of the iPad music player very much and was never seriously thinking about replacing it. But when I opened up Ecoute on my iPod for the first time, I immediately knew that this was exactly what I’ve been searching for. I basically want three things in a mobile music player: easy navigation, intelligent gesture integration for flawless in-app movement, and a focus on album artwork. Except for some flaws in terms of navigation, Ecoute measures up to all these requirements. Read more

Ecoute 3.0 Brings New UI, Queue, Lion Features

Back in January I reviewed Ecoute 2.0, a major update to a standalone iTunes music player that was made quite popular by its support for “themes” to be used in a desktop music controller. Today, developers PixiApps have released Ecoute 3.0, which represents a big shift in terms of user interface and underlying engine, but builds on the feature set offered by Ecoute 2.0.

For those unfamiliar with standalone music players, Ecoute belongs to this family of apps that are capable of playing iTunes’ media library without actually using iTunes. By fetching the required files to make iTunes’ library available outside of the iTunes environment automatically, Ecoute offers an alternative view for music, videos and podcasts, while at the same time giving the user additional tools to share songs online, create keyboard shortcuts, and more. Unfortunately, it appears Ecoute 3.0 still can’t automatically identify an iTunes library stored somewhere else than the default location, as I noted for version 2.0 in January. The app does have, however, an option to manually open iTunes libraries stored on your Mac or external drive.

From a feature standpoint, Ecoute 3.0 is fairly similar to its predecessor. You can share tracks on, Twitter and Facebook, assign keyboard shortcuts to various playback controls, install themes, navigate with gesture swipes and control the artwork widget on your desktop. These are features that were implemented in version 2.0, and have been improved for 3.0. Still, there are some important additions in this update: for one, the app is fully compatible with OS X Lion (natural scrolling, full-screen mode) and 64-bit. These optimizations have brought along a faster UI and more responsive search results when filtering your media library.

Speaking of user interface, the biggest change in Ecoute is the application’s design, which has completely changed from Ecoute 2.0. The app now uses a multi-column layout that adapts on screen depending on what you’re browsing and works with three-finger swipe navigation. Say what you will about Lion’s gestures, but I find this method incredibly more intuitive than Ecoute’s old interface. Now playing information has been merged with the title bar, where you’ll also find buttons to love a track, enter full-screen, and the duration of a song. Gone is the huge bottom bar from Ecoute 2.0, which leaves room for more compact music controls and, overall, provides a more elegant look to the entire app. Ecoute 3.0 feels a lot cleaner and it’s been simplified to make browsing music fast and lightweight.

There are other new features in Ecoute 3.0. Artwork view has been given its own section and you can now automatically display it after a period of inactivity; minimal mode and gapless playback have been implemented, giving a reason to those who can’t stand iTunes’ bloated interface to go even more minimal with Ecoute; you can also “shuffle by albums” and have multiple selections.

More importantly, at least for me, Ecoute 3.0 comes with a queue feature (accessible through Lion’s typical popover control) that lets you re-organize the songs you’re about to listen to. You can drag & reorder songs as well as add more to the queue from Ecoute’s main list.

If you’ve been looking for a fresh new way to access your media library in a standalone, easy-to-use app while leaving iTunes to perform heavier tasks such as TV show and movie management, I recommend Ecoute 3.0 today just as I did with Ecoute 2.0 in January. The app is elegant, responsive, fully updated for Lion, and you’ll be able to customize it with themes. Ecoute 3.0 is available at $8.99 on the Mac App Store.

Ecoute 2.0 - Small, Powerful Alternative to iTunes

Just like any other alternative to iTunes on the Mac, Ecoute has been around for a while. Since Apple shipped its very own music player and digital hub years ago, many developers have tried to come up with original solutions for all those who couldn’t stand iTunes. And as iTunes grew bigger to accommodate apps, books, podcasts and just about anything you can put on an iPhone or iPod, thousands of users and even more developers started feeling the need of a minimal music player, again. What began as a hobby for a limited number of users (“let’s not use iTunes for music”) evolved into a real segment of a market willing to keep iTunes closed to listen to music libraries. And I understand the position of the users and developers that first thought about jumping out of iTunes: why would one need to stare at iTunes and all its features and options all the time, when you just need to listen to some music?

In spite of iTunes becoming many people’s less used music player over time, the apps that have surfaced in the past years that allow us to just play music are, in most cases, nothing but standalone iTunes controllers that strip away the clutter and focus on albums, artists and songs. They fetch a user’s library, take the music out of it and display it into a minimal, sometimes non-existent, user interface. Coversutra, Bowtie: they are two popular iTunes controllers for OS X that have gained support for other features such as scrobbling and iOS remote streaming. But in the end, they rely on iTunes.

So did Ecoute 1.0, and so does the just-released Ecoute 2.0. Ecoute is a well-known music player for OS X that plays music from iTunes, but doesn’t require you to keep iTunes running in the background. It automatically finds a user’s iTunes library file and takes content from there. It comes with a neat desktop widget for quick play / pause actions, but it’s also got its dedicated interface. Ecoute 2.0 depends on iTunes, but it adds great value while giving you a reason to stay out of Apple’s software at the same time. Read more

Soor: A Third-Party Apple Music Client for iPhone

Soor, a third-party client for Apple Music created by indie developer Tanmay Sonawane, is based upon a fascinating premise: unlike other standalone music players for iPhone, Soor works with Apple’s native MusicKit API, enabling direct integration with Apple Music; unlike Apple’s Music app though, Soor prioritizes one-handed gestures, user customization, and a single-page design that packs multiple sections into one view. In theory, Soor should be the optimal blend of two different worlds – a third-party music player with its own aesthetic and stylistic choices combined with Apple Music data and the service’s vast streaming catalog. In practice, while Soor has some solid ideas I’d like to see in Apple Music too, and despite its intriguing visual design, the app doesn’t qualify as a complete replacement for the Music app on iPhone.

Read more