Music Player Apps on iOS

Apple’s own music app has never been what I would consider a shining example of what any music player should aspire to on iOS. I suppose that’s why there have been many attempts by third party developers to fill this void.

Apps like Ecoute, Track 8, and Groove are examples of apps that all have their own unique UI/UX, some of which stray far off the beaten path from the stock iOS 7 aesthetic. Since as far back as iOS 6, I’ve bounced back and forth between the stock music player and third party varieties, all while never quite being perfectly happy with any of the choices.

For a while both Ecoute and Groove were pretty nice, both of which had some unique features, such as being able to pull up song lyrics (lyrics) or Rdio-like stations (Groove). Eventually I ended up giving up and switching to Rdio. Their respective web and mobile apps have received much polish and feature enhancements over the past year alone, so they’re worth a look again if you previously jumped ship.

Rdio’s iOS client is pretty nice, but it like many others, implement search in a sub-optimal way (that’s the way I see it). It causes great frustration that I can’t search easily without resorting to swiping from the left edge. In Ecoute, I can pull down from the top and get access to search. This action is quick and painless. The only argument to this is pulling down from the top is synonymous with pull-to-refresh refresh, which is now baked into some of Apple’s core apps in iOS 7, such as Mail. In Track 8, there’s a permanently fixed search icon you can tap in the tab bar at the bottom, which I love, however, it only seems to search by song title (often times I want to pull up an album and play the whole thing).

To access search in Rdio, it takes a swipe and a tap (one too many moves), and the search bar height seems a few pixels too short, so tapping it feels less easy to me. When I’m in my collection view, I don’t want to have to scroll alphabetically to find the artist I want; I would prefer immediate access to search with just a single tap. I would gladly trade pull-to-refresh for pull to search in apps like Rdio.

There is no perfect solution at the moment, so I keep bouncing between Rdio and Track 8 (mainly because of its social sharing feature with I hope Apple can once again surprise and delight in a future iteration of their music player. Perhaps in iOS 8 I’ll see that, but not today.