Music Info

Category: Music & Video > Music            Download size:  720 KB           Age rating: 12+           Publisher: Johnny Westlake        Price: $1.49 ( free trial available)

Updated: 9/29/2012 – An update came down for this review so I have updated it accordingly. The app is also now labeled a “preview” which I don’t recall seeing before.

If you’ve read my reviews you realize I am not too crazy about the Music app that comes with Windows 8. One of the apps that very nearly has it beat is Music Info. It certainly may depend upon your needs, but I’ll get into why it is “nearly” there. (Correct me if I’m wrong about the availability of a free trial. The store now shows I own the app with no option to buy it, but I know I downloaded it as a trial).

Music info – main screen

It’s initial screen is a bit…. red. It’s a shame that the app starts out so poor as it is truly a nicely built app. It does brighten up a bit once you start playing songs as you can see below. In the upper left it is showing the song information, but initially it shows “Shuffle All” so you can begin right away just listening to your collection. Great stuff!

Music Info – main screen update

Now Playing when clicked gives you the artist and song title for what is currently playing along with a background related to that artist. It provides you now long the song has been playing and basic controls. You can also access the queue (playlist) from here. Collection will show your entire song collection by either artist, album or track. The artist or track views aren’t easy to see their respective items, they are just clear rectangles with text inside and a random background. The albums view is quite good though. The Collection view does provide semantic view that allows you to easily jump to certain artists or songs easily. Too bad the album view doesn’t always have it.

Music Info – manage queue

Since you can shuffle your whole collection you don’t need to create a queue (playlist).  No playlist creation either, the queue is just…there. It remembers your queue if you’ve closed the app, but starts from the same spot – still nice that the queue stays there. You can remove items from your queue here and drag and drop to change the order. This is where this app can push one towards not using the Music app. It isn’t meant to be a full-fledged music player, but providing that ability even in this small way really helps.

Music Info – charts – track selected

The final section is Charts which provide links for Top Artists, Top Tracks, Hyped Artists and Hyped Tracks. These views provide good background information on each artist as I’ll get into below. The Top Tracks and Hyped Tracks sections though I can’t get to activate. I right-click on a song and it highlights it but doesn’t play. I’m not sure what the point is. There is no way to play any other music except which you own already, which is unfortunate. Heck even a link to another source would be really helpful.

Music Info – difficult to read text

The artists info which really is at the heart of the point of this app is terrific. It provides information on artists in your collection and others found in the charts. The biography view as shown above is really nice with a background tailored to that artist, unfortunately it can be difficult to read sometimes.  The # of plays and # of listeners information is retrieved from last.fm, but that is where all of the other information in the app is sourced from.

A really nice photo gallery of each artist is available (if they have photos). You can click on a thumbnail to view it full screen but there is no way to get to the next photo without going back and selecting that one.

Music Info – web content

The area I think this app shines more than any other is the web content. As you can see above, there are top albums of the group showing up by default but you can choose Top Tracks, Tour Dates, Shouts and Tags. The Tour Dates is really neat because not only will it show when they are on tour, but where (image of the venue) and who else is playing with them. The Shouts and Tags are ok, Shouts are posts from last.fm and Tags are just there, don’t seem to do anything. Keep in mind not all sections will appear for all artists.

Music Info – similar for Airbourne Toxic Event

Another really nice feature is the Similar section. It provides a percentage as to how similar other artists are to artists in your collection or in the charts. It really can aid in discovering new music. It falls short because you cannot actually sample any music within the app.

Music Info – Syd Barrett played on “The Wall”?

One final image from the app. Yes it is a nitpick and may not be the apps fault since it sources its information from last.fm but look at the above image. I’m looking at the album “The Wall” and the background image that was matched with it. I know it shows the same background no matter what you look at for the artist, just struck me rather odd since it pairs the Syd Barrett version of Pink Floyd with the album cover of “The Wall”.

Charms

Search – works great to find artists that aren’t listed in the charts or your collection but you are interested in finding more information about. Share – it shares from nearly every location in the app and does it very well. Of course it is simply sharing last.fm links, but it works. Settings – there is a setting to rebuild the database of your music collection. The app does it on its own but you can force it if you just added a bunch of tracks. The other setting provided is how big you want the photo cache to be for all the images it might download.

Snap

It snaps nicely to the one-third view and everything functions well. When playing music you don’t get all the options (such as shuffle or no repeat) but play/pause and next do exist. Biography, photos, web content, it all works. Nice work.

Tile

There is no live tile for this app. It isn’t really needed since it doesn’t do a very good job playing music and that would be what I’d want showing on the tile (current song).

Kudos to the developer for addressing issues I mentioned in my initial review (why I chose to update it). It gives a lot of information about artists and their music right at your fingertips. It even allows you to play your music collection, though clearly not it’s primary function. The biggest disappointment for me though is I cannot in any way play similar music. I love discovering new music and this app helps me, but leaves me hanging. I wouldn’t even care if it didn’t play the music itself, but pointed me to where I could check it out.

If this app can beef up the music playing abilities a bit more and how to discover new music, this app can be killer. As it stands now for $1.49, I do recommend it, just with one foot in the hokey-pokey circle and waiting till I can put my whole self in.

Rating

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About

51-yr-old father of 3, work in telemarketing, like computers and technology

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Posted in App Preview, Music, Windows 8
5 comments on “Music Info
  1. Johnny Westlake says:

    Cheers for the review, I guess it’s worth pointing out it’s still a preview build up until Windows 8’s GA, so it’ll be seeing atleast 1 update a week until then.

    Regarding letting you play more music – I did realise that, and I haven’t found anywhere that provides free streams yet. But, that’s why I added the grey search button – it opens up the search charm with the search query already input, so you can search to listen / buy that artists music else where. It’s not a perfect scenario though I do agree 😛

    Collection view does have Semantic Zoom, though it only enables itself when you have over 40 items in either the Artists or Tracks view.

    Thanks for the review though, hopefully you’ll give it another look over when it reaches version 1.0, sometime next month / early November. Still a lot of work to do! 🙂

  2. Johnny Westlake says:

    I guess it’s also worth noting that yes, the music player was tacked on. It wasn’t really meant to replace the Xbox Music app, but people keep using it as a replacement for that, so I’ll probably have to pay more attention to that! 😛

  3. […] the default Music app (has a smart DJ playlist and other features that set it apart) or choose the Music Info […]

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