iPhones & iPods have had the same music player the past five years, minus some very minor alterations. The fact is, the stock iPod player is very capable & fulfills most people’s music needs. Besides us nerds of course.
There have been many worthy competitors who have fulfilled niches in the market. Apps such as Audium , a gorgeous music player that focuses on simply playing full albums. No playlists, no selecting individual tracks. Just appreciating an album for what it is.
Then there are apps such as Music+, which are identical to the stock music app, but add much needed features such as a queue feature (a much needed feature, which apple seems to ignore in all of it’s products) but yet again, if you want something completely different, whilst also functional & aesthetically pleasing, there isn’t much out there. Well, that’s what I thought until I found CarTunes.
I haven’t looked at any alternative players recently, as I have been using iTunes Match (which is a catastrophe, but we’ll save that for another article). But now, I’ve turned off iTunes Match (for the better) & decided to look at some alternative players. CarTunes was in my Genius recommendations for a while & simply because of the name, I never really gave it a look. I mean, “CARtunes”. One thing you have to understand about the app, is that it was created to fill the niche of easy music access whilst driving. It was in the process of filling this niche that the developers made something so much more.
The whole app is controlled by gestures, which I suppose could put some people off. I certainly have had some unpleasant experiences with gestures in iPhone apps. But these are intuitive & simple. Swipe left to go to the next track, swipe right to go to the previous. Swipe up to turn the volume up, swipe down to turn the volume down. It’s that simple. The only one people may have problems with is the two finger swipe upwards which is used to access the menu.
Speaking of the menu, it is also rather intuitive & pleasing to the eye. Your first tab is your songs, with a small album art image next to each. I suppose I should point out now, that if your music collection doesn’t have complete artwork, you will not be able to experience this app at it’s full potential. The second tab, the album selection for example, shows a wall full of your album art. Which looks spectacular if all of your music has it’s album art, but if it doesn’t, it can be a rather mismatch of the same missing artwork symbol.
The other two tabs are the artist tab (which is pretty self-explanatory) & the playlist tab (which again, is pretty standard). There is also one last tab, which seems to be a podcast tab, which I couldn’t seem to get working. I use Instacast for my Podcasts, so it doesn’t matter to me, but, I suppose other people might have a use for it.
More than anything, it’s the little touches that make this app special for me. From the way the gestures fade in & out depending on how much pressure you apply. To the way that the colour scheme changes based on the album art of the current track playing. In a recent update, the team added several new fonts which you can use with every aspect of the app. Whilst it may be nice for a change, I still prefer the default (Bold) as it keeps a feeling of simplicity but functionality at the same time! For all you Twitter fanatics out there, by swiping two fingers down you can tweet the song that is currently playing, all pre-hashtagged for you!
CarTunes is avaliable on the App Store for $4.99.
I highly recommend it!