Sunday, August 4, 2019

Review of the iTunes Music App

The Music app on an Apple device is my answer to the problem of managing an extensive music collection. It is dependent on iTunes that can run on an Apple or a Windows-based computer. You can visit Apple’s website for learning to use iTunes, and I will not cover that here. The Music app can also stream radio stations and buy music from Apple. I have the buy music option turned off on my device.

I began ripping (converting wav files to mp3 files) music files from my compact disc collection in 1998. I have accumulated 67 Gigabytes (GB) of music files since then, almost 12,000 songs. It was only last year that I acquired a device with enough storage to fit all those files; an iPhone 8 with 256 GB of storage. I have tried many music managers over the years such as Winamp, MuzicMan, MusicMonkey, MusicBee, and others I no longer remember. They were all PC based, and it was always a challenge moving an extensive library of music from one PC to another. In that environment, iTunes was never my first choice, but it emerged the winner here because of the portability of the iPhone.

Usability

You can use the Music app easily because it is preinstalled on Apple devices. You do not have to go to the App Store and download anything. Tap the Music icon, and it opens.
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If you do not have any music stored on your device, you can tap the Radio option at the bottom center of your screen. Choose a station to begin streaming music.
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There is a search option for finding radio stations or searching through your music. The screenshot below showed the top three results when I searched for Gold. To search radio stations tap the radio button.
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Design

Below is the main screen when a song is playing. It shows artwork for the song that is playing and has controls for playback. There is an active track progress slider showing time elapsed and time left and allows you to jump to any part of the song. The title of the song is displayed in black and the artist and album information in red. If the title is too long, it will scroll across the screen. There are previous, play/pause, and next icons that are very intuitive. A volume slider below that completes the playback controls. If you tap the ellipsis (three red dots) a pop up appears with more options, one of which allows you to “love” the song to add it to your favorites list. Tapping the red triangle intersecting three concentric circles allows you to choose a Bluetooth device for playback.
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Functionality

The Music app has limited functionality for creating playlists on the fly or rating songs. Both can be done in iTunes. The function I like best is shuffle play. On the search screen, I tap songs which finds all songs in my collection. Then I tap shuffle, and I have my own private radio station with no commercials.
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Recommendations for Improvement

Make it easier to rate a song while it plays. All you can do in the app is love, dislike, or delete.
Make the recently played playlist dynamic. The recently played songs do not appear until after the device is synced with iTunes.
Provide a more natural method to add songs to the current playlist. If you do not do it just right, it will wipe out your playlist.

The Takeaway

If you are like me in wanting to maintain your own music collection for those occasions when there is no internet connection or your streaming service does not have the song you absolutely must hear, give the Music app a try. If you are already familiar with Apple products, it will be easy and rewarding. If not, you may struggle to learn the iTunes program, but I think the struggle will be worth it.

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