Electricpig » MP3 & Audio http://www.electricpig.co.uk The only tech you need Thu, 22 Nov 2012 12:13:35 +0000 en hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.2.1 New iPod and iPad mini ads: Why Apple’s back on world class form http://www.electricpig.co.uk/2012/10/25/new-ipod-and-ipad-mini-ads/ http://www.electricpig.co.uk/2012/10/25/new-ipod-and-ipad-mini-ads/#comments Thu, 25 Oct 2012 15:24:54 +0000 Adam Bunker http://www.electricpig.co.uk/?p=466296

The iPad mini and the new iPods are big news for Apple. Not because the products themselves are swish, but because they’ve been ushered into existence with the best ads that Apple’s managed to make for some years. Welcome back to the top tier of ad-making… 

Apple used to be brilliant at adverts. In the early days of the iPod, colourful commercials with well-chosen music and those iconic silhouettes were everywhere, and so famous that they were often lampooned. And then, suddenly, things stopped being quite so iconic.

Apple invites and the art of communication

For the past, ooh, let’s say two years, Apple’s iPhone, iPad and iPod adverts have all been nice, but they’ve not been particularly memorable. There’s been something of a slump.

But, miraculously, that slump now seems to be over, thanks to this:

What a brilliantly-made ad. The song choice is almost perfect, and the whole thing tells you everything you need to know about the new iPod lineup without having to say a word. It’s fun, it’s energetic and it’s brief – brief enough to leave you a little bit bamboozled. In a good way.

So that’s good, but it could be a one-off, right? Nope; the announcement ad for the iPad mini is just as inspired, but in an altogether different way. Again, there’s no voiceover, but it tells you all you need to know:

The message is that you can still do all the same stuff you could do on the original (in this case music making) – you won’t be losing out. And it says that very elegantly.

In short: we’re impressed. Either someone’s been fired or someone’s been hired at Apple, because these two ads are a country mile smarter than what’s been oozing out of Cupertino for the past few product cycles. Kudos.

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Xbox Music launching tomorrow: Like Spotify, only squarer http://www.electricpig.co.uk/2012/10/15/xbox-music-launching-tomorrow-like-spotify-only-squarer/ http://www.electricpig.co.uk/2012/10/15/xbox-music-launching-tomorrow-like-spotify-only-squarer/#comments Mon, 15 Oct 2012 10:26:13 +0000 Adam Bunker http://www.electricpig.co.uk/?p=455069

Microsoft’s 2012 is a pretty busy one. On top of launching Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8, it’s also found time to bring about its own cross-platform Spotify rival. Xbox Music is finally landing tomorrow, but what does it actually do?

Xbox Music was announced back in June, during Microsoft’s E3 keynote, and promises to be a Windows lover’s one-stop shop for music streaming and buying. Yep – it’s offering both a download service as well as a subscription-based streaming model.

Microsoft at E3: Where are the games?

That subscription will set you back $9.99 monthly (likely to be £9.99 in the UK) and offer you the ability to make and store playlists, listen to artist radio and… Well, just watch the video:

If you’re fully curled up in bed with Microsoft’s kit, Xbox Music will really shine: the Metro UI-styled service is built to sync wirelessly between Windows 8 PCs/tablets, the Xbox 360 and Windows Phone handsets. Xbox Music will launch tomorrow (Tuesday 16th).

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Samsung Galaxy Music: Budget handset set to go after the iPod touch? http://www.electricpig.co.uk/2012/09/27/samsung-galaxy-music-budget-handset-set-to-go-after-the-ipod-touch/ http://www.electricpig.co.uk/2012/09/27/samsung-galaxy-music-budget-handset-set-to-go-after-the-ipod-touch/#comments Thu, 27 Sep 2012 09:58:23 +0000 Adam Bunker http://www.electricpig.co.uk/?p=426170

Odd one, this. Samsung seems to be taking aim at Apple’s new iPod touch, but it’s doing so with a phone, rather than a standalone MP4 player. Can a Galaxy-branded music phone be the new Walkman?

If the rumours are true, Samsung’s hard at work on a handset it’ll call the Galaxy Music. The device will be an Android-powered number, shipping with Ice Cream Sandwich at first, and making the jump to Jelly Bean shortly thereafter.

The musical juice will be squeezed from Samsung’s Music Hub service, but with the handset running Android, you’ll have your pick of third party music services.

Galaxy S4 coming in the Spring?

What’s interesting is the rumoured spec. By all accounts, the Galaxy Music’s 850MHz processor and 512MB of RAM is vastly underpowered, which suggests that Sammie’s going to aim the phone squarely at the budget/youth market.

No pricing’s yet been released, but it’ll be interesting if Samsung can be competitive enough to pry teens and the like away from Apple stores.

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Apple Lightning adapters: charging woes eased, but at what cost? http://www.electricpig.co.uk/2012/09/13/apple-lightning-adapters-charging-woes-eased-but-at-what-cost/ http://www.electricpig.co.uk/2012/09/13/apple-lightning-adapters-charging-woes-eased-but-at-what-cost/#comments Thu, 13 Sep 2012 09:45:32 +0000 Adam Bunker http://www.electricpig.co.uk/?p=402753

The iPhone 5 is certainly a pretty looking thing, but one of the design choices that’s probably going to enrage a lot of buyers is the new Lightning charging dock and cable. Sure, the phone comes with one, but that’s not going to mean a lot to the kind of people who like to keep chargers everywhere. Luckily, help is at hand.

Apple’s announced two official adapters for the iPhone 5 and new iPod lineup, to help ease the problem of not having enough compatible charge points around the house.

iPhone 5: Hands-on and first impressions

The Lightning to 30-pin adapter will transform any existing iPod or iPhone charger into a Lightning port. That’ll set you back a rather annoying £25. If you live with a bunch of Android or other smartphone owners, you could also buy an adapter to capitalise on that.

Apple’s Lightning to Micro USB module will let you usurp and Android charger for your own gain. That’s a more manageable £15 from the Apple store.

None of this is ideal, but give it time and the iPhone cables of yore will disappear forever.

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New 2012 iPod touch, iPod nano and EarPod headphones unveiled by Apple http://www.electricpig.co.uk/2012/09/12/new-2012-ipods/ http://www.electricpig.co.uk/2012/09/12/new-2012-ipods/#comments Wed, 12 Sep 2012 18:53:17 +0000 Adam Bunker http://www.electricpig.co.uk/?p=401340

It’s not just the iPhone 5, you know…

Apple has had a busy evening. Not only has the iPhone 5 become a reality, but the company’s flagship handset has been joined by two new iPods and an update to iTunes. Wanna know what the what is? Read on…

iPod touch

The flagship iPod has had a redesign to match the iPhone 5. It’s got the same 4-inch display with the same resolution, but is only 88g in weight and 6.1mm thick. Which is mental. Despite that tiny waistline, it’s got the A5 processor found in the iPhone 4S, making it ‘7 times faster’ graphics than the old iPod touch.

Where it differs from the iPhone 5’s design is the back, which is brushed aluminium all the way. It’s also got a speaker, for the first time. Playback time for music is 40 hours, or 8 for video, while the rear camera has been upgraded to a 5-Meg iSight jobbie and the front to a 720p FaceTime cam.

The biggest news? Siri on the iPod touch for the first time, and it’ll come in five colors: aluminum, black, blue, yellow and red.

iPod nano

“We really wanted to take the chance to reinvent the nano” said Apple’s Greg Joswick. SO that’s what they did. The 7th-gen nano is 5.4mm thin, with a 2.5-inch touchscreen, a home button and physical buttons on the side.

It comes in aluminium, black, purple, green, blue, yellow and red. And it looks pretty swish. Very Sony, in our opinion, but swish nonetheless. What’s more: with that larger screen, Apple has taken the chance to bring back video playback.

It’s got the new Lightning connector and boasts a 30-hour life for music. The only downside? It’s still not iOS proper, so there’s no app support.

And, finally, there’s Bluetooth.

EarPods

The disctinctive white iPod headphones have finally received an upgrade. now called EarPods, they’re the answer to years of frustration over crappy in-ear lugs. ”Doing a great headphone is hard, because ears are really, really challenging, because everyone’s ears are different,” says Apple – so the problem called for a different solution.

The EarPods are designed to fit a multitude of ear shapes and sizes, by not actually fitting. They don’t close up your lug hole, but rather direct sound around in a more controlled ay via three different ports. Sounds good to us.

iTunes

Nothing major here. People who dislike Apple’s music service are unlikely to have a change of heart, but the design has been changed for the iPad and iPhone with iOS 6, to make it easier to navigate by touch.

The Mac and PC clients have also had a facelift. Apple calls it ‘dramatically simpler’ – it’s been carved down to a basic grid system. Again, this isn’t anything to lose sleep over, but it’s a nice update nonetheless.

The best bit is probably the updated mini player. Discrete but more useful. iTunes for Mac and PC will be out in October.

iPhone 5: Read all about it!


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Atomic Floyd SuperDarts review: Time you bought some proper earphones? http://www.electricpig.co.uk/2012/07/27/atomic-floyd-superdarts-review-time-you-bought-some-proper-earphones/ http://www.electricpig.co.uk/2012/07/27/atomic-floyd-superdarts-review-time-you-bought-some-proper-earphones/#comments Fri, 27 Jul 2012 11:42:59 +0000 Adam Bunker http://www.electricpig.co.uk/?p=310887

Buying earphones is a right minefield. You start out your music-listening career with whatever came with your player of choice, then graduate to something a bit more noise-cancelly, then you start buying buds that cost around £30-£60. Then these inevitably break so you buy a similar pair and so on and so forth until, at some point, you ask yourself if, this time, it’d worth spending a serious amount of cash on their replacement.

Well, is it? I’ve been using the £199 Atomic Floyd SuperDarts + Remote to try and find out.

The above has been my exact journey. Having somehow destroyed several pairs of mid-range earphones (simply by using them), I’ve been questioning how wise it would be to go all out on the next pair. And the Floyds are just that: pricey, premium and red all over. How do they fare?

Looks

Once you’ve managed to break your way into the Floyd’s astronaut-grade packaging, you’ll notice one thing: these don’t look like the sort of earphones you get for the mid range price mark. And to be fair, when you’re paying £199, you don’t expect to see an abundance of black plastic. What you get instead is stainless steel. The buds are hewn of the stuff, and shaped like plane turbines.

Atomic Floyd TwistJax review

This emphasis on better materials extends to the cord, too. The SuperDarts bright red tail is covered in kevlar. It makes them feel a bit more rugged, but I’m not all that sure they live up to their ‘anti-tangle’ promise. Not that they would: making headphones that genuinely don’t tangle in your pocket is probably a job for the boys at CERN.

Long story short: they’re a unique-looking pair of lug-fillers. Maybe a little too different. The actual buds are slightly larger than your average ones due to their extra innards (more on that in a bit), which means that they do stick out of your head quite a bit.

If you don’t have long hair, this has the potential to look a bit like you’ve got two Frankenstein bolts coming out of your temples. In my experience, wearing the SuperDarts definitely turns heads, but whether you think that’s a good thing or not arguably depends on how much of a wallflower you are. They’re not insane looking, but they do stick out a bit.

Sound quality

I know what sounds good, but I’m not about to sit down with anyone and argue the merits of having an extra 7 Hz or 3 decibels. That said, in the same way that most able-eared humans can tell the difference between ‘tinny’ and ‘bassy’, I can hear that the Atomic Floyds are noticeably better than any pair of earphones I’ve tried to date.

That’ll be due to the dual drivers – giving the SuperDarts double the amount of speakers as standard buds. That’s why they’re slightly on the large side, but it’s also why I genuinely noticed parts of songs that I’d not heard before. The sound quality (and especially the noise cancellation) is good. I’d hesitate to say if that alone is £199′s worth of good, but then you’re paying for the whole package here.

Remote

That whole package includes an inline remote – a feature that presumably costs untold amounts and endless man-hours to include, as you never seem to get one with headphones that cost any less than £60. It’s a nice touch and does what you’d expect – skips and pauses tracks, as well as adjusting the volume. There’s also a microphone for making handsfree calls. So far so good, but there’s a problem…

Beats headphones go solo

The SuperDarts’ remote doesn’t seem to like Android all that much. The pausing and skipping functions work, but the volume function doesn’t. Or at least, it doesn’t when paired with a Samsung Galaxy S3. Something to consider if you’ve got a library of songs ripped at different volumes.

Jogging

Whilst we’re on the subject of downfalls, there is a drawback to using such premium materials: they’re not light. This isn’t a problem when you’re walking about, but it makes the SuperDarts uneasy jogging partners. I’ve not had them fall out of my ears, but the weight of the cord and the stainless steel inline remote means that bouncing up and down tugs on your ears in a slightly uncomfortable way. Enough to say that I wouldn’t wear them for any more than a 45 minute jog.

Having said that, I did a run with the SuperDarts in one of the worst storms since the Noah’s arc debacle, and they remained completely unaffected by the deluge. Kudos.

Verdict

If you’re anything like me, the biggest worry in spending a lot of money on earphones isn’t about sound quality – it’s that earphones always break. It’s a genuine concern that spending a lot of money on something that most people treat very badly, and that you know will be replaced at some point in the future, might not be all that wise.

Klipsch S4A Android headphones review

Having only tested the Atomic Floyd SuperDarts for a couple of weeks, I can’t really tell you how long they’re going to last. I can, however, attest to their sound prowess. And I can say that they feel more hardy and durable than any pair I’ve had before.

Will they eventually break? Everything does, but there’s something in my bones that says I’d have probably bought six pairs of £30 headphones before they do finally give up on me.

Link: Atomic Floyd

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iPod nano redesign: Back to the old school? http://www.electricpig.co.uk/2012/07/11/ipod-nano-redesign-back-to-the-old-school/ http://www.electricpig.co.uk/2012/07/11/ipod-nano-redesign-back-to-the-old-school/#comments Wed, 11 Jul 2012 12:53:35 +0000 Adam Bunker http://www.electricpig.co.uk/?p=300504

Apple tends to update its iPods around September every year, and this year probably won’t be any different. What will be different, though, is the nano. According to sources close to Apple’s manufacturing chain, the iPod nano is set to shed its square design and go back to the way things were…

As of 2010, the iPod nano has been just a slither of its past self. It shed the ability to play video in favour of a size not much bigger than the iPod shuffle, albeit with a touchscreen and a dumbed-down version of iOS. It’s been a good seller, and Apple has tried to pitch it to users as a watch, but is the square nano about to die?

According to rumours from somewhere deep inside murky depths of the Chinese supply chain, the 7th generation nano will regain its old, elongated shape. On top of that, it’ll get an iPhone-like home button and a revamped iTunes offering, presumably to allow for on-the-fly song buying.

iPod nano: Apple really wants you to wear it as a watch

We’d take this with a pinch of salt. While it makes sense for Apple to bring iTunes (and maybe more apps) to the nano, it won’t want to cannibalise any iPod touch sales. Moreover, the whole wristwatch thing the current nano has going on is a strong selling point.

But it’s definitely not out of the realms of possibility. Apple knows first hand the backlash that faces any product refresh that doesn’t make any drastic hardware changes. Remember what happened at the iPhone 4S launch?

Via [Source]

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Napster boss: Why buying music is dying, and where Spotify is going wrong http://www.electricpig.co.uk/2012/07/03/napster-boss-why-buying-music-is-dying-and-where-spotify-is-going-wrong/ http://www.electricpig.co.uk/2012/07/03/napster-boss-why-buying-music-is-dying-and-where-spotify-is-going-wrong/#comments Tue, 03 Jul 2012 15:41:14 +0000 Adam Bunker http://www.electricpig.co.uk/?p=294852

I’ve been to see a few music streaming services recently. I’ve been a long-time user of Spotify, but in the last month I’ve gone for briefings with both Sony (for its Music Unlimited service) and now Napster, which is relaunching in the UK as a streaming service owned by US company Rhapsody.

Apparently, now’s the time to get in on the streaming action; the market is growing. But if that’s the case, what can you do to differentiate yourself from the big players? And how do you shake off such an infamous reputation as the one attached to Napster? That’s exactly what I asked Napster Europe’s General Manager, Thorsten Schliesche…

Napster’s new service has all the bells and whistles you’d expect, at the price you’d expect. For £5 per month, you’re gifted access to over 15 million songs to stream or, if you want the mobile app, £10 per month for the ability to save songs for offline use.

Revealed: Steve Jobs hated streaming

Whereas Sony’s trick is to claim to get to know your tastes and suggest music based on them, and Spotify’s is in the social side of things, the relaunched Napster is setting itself up as a destination full of carefully cultivated editorial, with regularly updated content written in each territory by a team of local music buffs. There are reviews, videos, biographies, interviews and the like, and it comes across as the sort of thing you could get quite lost in.

So that’s the pitch over with; now for some more pressing questions…

Is the ‘a la carte’ music-buying model dead?

Spotify’s the old dog now. Along Samsung’s Music Hub, MOG, Rdio and Music Unlimited, Napster is in a market suddenly bustling with streaming – rather than selling – services. Does that mean that the act of buying songs is dying out?

“It feels old school,” said Schliesche. “Everybody’s talking about other stuff, but when you look at revenue for the music industry, 80 per cent still comes from a la carte.” But, he said, that is changing, which is exactly why so many people are now getting in on the streaming business.

“90 per cent of the record companies have understood and accepted that music streaming will be the future. Or an important element. There will still be people buying CDs and MP3s, but streaming will be the important element of the future. I think finally that’s accepted.”

Schliesche suggests that the only stumbling blocks that remain at the moment are in price and in spreading the word. “We still have to work with a lot of people to get the access, rather than ownership, model across.It’s a change in culture, for people to understand that access is enough and you don’t need to own music to listen to it.”

And on price? “What is the right price? And how do you split the revenues between the operators, the labels and the artists? There’s still some discussion to do there,” says Schliesche. Which leads me on to another thing…

What about Napster’s reputation?

Napster’s history is chequered. The one-time king of free music has long since been neutered, watered down and rebranded, but is that wise when reputation still sticks in people’s minds?

“To be completely honest, for the end consumer, Napster has never had any negative connotations.” Alright, fair point; everyone loved it in it’s original guise. “The challenge we have is that, for the original user, Napster was a free music experience. We’re still a music experience, but we’ve had to replace ‘free’ with ‘value for money.’”

Music Unlimited: Why Sony thinks you’re lazy

That’s still an industry-wide problem. For now, at least, £10 per month seems to be the unmovable option (as long as you’re allowing people to save music for offline use, at least).

But a problem much closer to Napster’s HQ must surely be a soured relationship with the record companies? “Within the industry, we had a bad reputation,” Schliesche concedes. But that was around a decade ago now. Has the dust settled? “We’ve churned to bury [that reputation],” he adds. “We’re working well with the labels.”

And Napster needs to. While the streaming war winner probably won’t be decided on who has the most tracks, it certainly helps to be able to compete to the nearest million.

Privacy is king

But, as it emerged, there is an area where Napster can claim to be superior to Spotify, even aside from the focus on editorial. While running through the desktop version of the app, something Schliesche said piqued my attention.

“On your profile settings you choose whether to connect your profile to Facebook or not. Then you choose whether you want to be visible in the Napster service or not.” Hang on; you mean it’s not an auto-posting embarrassment machine like Spotify?

“We think [Spotify’s system] is the wrong way,” he says. “Doing something that really forces them to post is nothing I want here.” To that end, Napster’s privacy options are a novelty; it’s all up to you.

“You can create your complete profile and be completely invisible to other users, or you open the app and you can  be seen by other users.” I’m well aware that Spotify lets you remain anonymous, but it seems like, especially if you’re using both the phone and desktop apps, you’ve forever got to be watching it to make sure it doesn’t auto-post, to someone, somewhere, that I’m listening to something humiliating.

Beats buys MOG: MP3-playing headphones inbound?

Schliesche saying “The default is ‘Not Visible’. You have to actively click on ‘Visible’” was music to my ears. “We don’t want to force customers to do something. We definitely feel we should give people control over what others see. Especially over the Facebook discussion.

“Even if people connect their profile to Facebook, every time something is going to post to their wall, there’s still the question ‘do you really want to post this?’ So people have to confirm it.”

I like. Do I like it enough to convert? I’ll certainly give Napster a bash for a bit. And I’ll let you know how I get on. Meanwhile, I’ve got another couple of features to add to the fantasy music streaming service building in my head.

Link: Napster UK

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Beats buys MOG: Music streaming headphones on the cards? http://www.electricpig.co.uk/2012/07/02/beats-buys-mog-music-streaming-headphones-on-the-cards/ http://www.electricpig.co.uk/2012/07/02/beats-buys-mog-music-streaming-headphones-on-the-cards/#comments Mon, 02 Jul 2012 10:28:13 +0000 Adam Bunker http://www.electricpig.co.uk/?p=293925

Beats, the headphone and software music monger, has just coughed up something in the region of $14 million (£8.9 million) to buy US-based streaming company MOG. Music streaming is undoubtedly a smart addition to the Beats brand, but what does it mean for its fans?

MOG’s not yet available in the UK, but it offers much the same service as the likes of Spotify; that being access to millions of songs to stream or save offline to a device, for a monthly subscription of $9.99.

Beats’ decision to buy the company has come out of the tail end of many months of rumour and speculation. We knew that beats was looking to expand, but not exactly how. “The addition of MOG’s music service to the Beats portfolio will provide a truly end-to-end music experience,” MOG CEO David Hyman said to USA Today.

Apple MP3 player headphones patent revealed

But what does that mean, exactly? Currently, Beats headphones are the company’s bread and butter, with a sideline in software EQs in HTC phones. We can see this going one of two ways: aside from the obvious point that MOG’s online arm and apps will be rebranded, HTC could adopt the streaming service as part of its beats integration.

This wouldn’t be a stretch. Samsung now offers its own music streaming service on the Galaxy S3, after all. Tell you what would be more exciting, though: Beats headphones with WiFi MP3 players woven in. That’s something that we know Apple’s looked at in the past, and it’s a cool prospect.

Still, we’ll just have to wait and see. One thing’s for sure, though; there’s no shortage of music streaming services available now, so Beats will have to do something clever with MOG to stand out.

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Music Unlimited: How Sony called me lazy and then converted me from Spotify http://www.electricpig.co.uk/2012/05/31/music-unlimited-how-sony-called-me-lazy-and-then-converted-me-from-spotify/ http://www.electricpig.co.uk/2012/05/31/music-unlimited-how-sony-called-me-lazy-and-then-converted-me-from-spotify/#comments Thu, 31 May 2012 14:55:24 +0000 Adam Bunker http://www.electricpig.co.uk/?p=272706

“There’s so much music around; it’s now about how you tie your music together, and how you discover new music that you don’t know.” That was the pitch thrown at me yesterday by So Saida, Senior Director of Sony Entertainment Network. “We learn your music tastes,” he said, as he walked me through the new iOS version of Music Unlimited, Sony’s subscription streaming service. “The more you play, the more you tell us what you like and what you don’t like, the more it changes.”

Sounds good, I thought, but I knew deep down that Sony would never drag me out of my Spotify. Or that’s what I thought. Thing is, here I am 24 hours later, moving my whole virtual music collection across to Sony’s service. And that’s even after Saida managed to call me “lazy”…

I’ve used Spotify religiously since day one. I’ve never been big on pirating, but at the same time I’ve never been the bloke with a million CDs or the enviable iTunes collection. I love music, but it’s rare for me to sit down and try to build a decent collection of anything. For that reason, Spotify and its playlist-focussed service appealed to me, and I was happy to pay £9.99 a month for it. Forever.

But Music Unlimited (also £9.99 per month for a Premium account) has won me over for several key reasons, none of which – funnily enough – are to do with Sony’s efforts to ease music discovery.

Sony: Spotify can still fail

“The majority of consumers are quite lazy,” Saida said. “There are many services available, and the consumer’s going to ask ‘what’s the value?’ In terms of personalisation and recommendation, we’re working with various companies to improve the meta data and bring the whole package together.”

And the stuff going on inside Music Unlimited to that end is good (tell the app what you like and what you don’t and it’ll learn about you over time), but what’s great actually has little to do with that. These are the things that have, against all odds, won me over:

A better catalogue

I like to put all these music streaming services through a little acid test, which I’m going to coin ‘Trial by Arcade Fire’. Everyone’s musical tastes are different, but to my mind there are a few glaring holes in Spotify’s catalogue. Arcade Fire is one, Oasis is another. But there are several such cases. Lo and behold – both are on Music Unlimted.

I actually thought Rdio had them, too, when I tested that out, but Rdio pulls a weird trick to get you interested: it lists all these artists, but puts in quite small writing next to them that their music isn’t actually available. Sneaky.

Music Unlimited’s still got some gaps – the Beatles, for instance – but from my early searching it seems that its 15 million songs have me better catered for.

Library

From time to time I’ve tried to ween myself off of Spotify and back into iTunes for one main reason: while Spotify’s playlist functionality is great, there’s no proper way of keeping an organised collection. Sure, you could just ‘star’ all of your favourite albums, but that’s a bit of a messy solution.

The problem is that with Spotify, your library is either your local MP3s or stuff from your playlists, without an obvious way to add music to your library from Spotify’s catalogue that isn’t in a playlist, and make that offline. Music Unlimited lets you do that.

Sure, it adds songs from your playlists to your library, but it also lets you go mental and just add everything you want to the library, alongside your MP3s which it’ll match in the cloud – just like iTunes Match, in fact. It’s a mishmash of several ideas, but it makes more sense together than any single one solution on its own. For me, this is major.

No install on desktop

“It’s available in 13 product categories,” said Saida, “but in terms of products, it’s probably hundreds. We have the most touch points.” That’s great, but Music Unlimited’s strength to my eyes is that it runs in a browser, which means I can go to a friend’s house, or my parents’, and have all my music blaring out without having to install anything.

It also means it’s available for anyone in an office that blocks them form installing anything on work machines, which will be a godsend to some.

Doesn’t share to Facebook

‘Nuff said, really.

Spotify iPad app arrives, is pretty damn good

Of course, there are some downsides to Music Unlimited. For all its good points, its newness on the iPhone scene has given it a few shortcomings that mean I’ll probably hold off from moving entirely across just yet. Chief among these is that the iPhone app doesn’t yet have the ability to move songs offline. “This is version 1.0. In the next planned releases, it’ll enable offline mode, too,” Saida promised me, while also iterating that the Android app allows for offline play.

That’s a must-have feature for the iPhone version, and one it needs soon – it’s something that the otherwise positive reviews on the App Store all seem to agree on. Also missing from this version is the ability to scrub through tracks – you know; to drag playback back to that amazing solo three quarters of the way through Europe’s The Final Countdown. Or something. And there’s also one small downside to being browser-based for desktops: it won’t respond to the pause and skip buttons on my Mac keyboard. Maybe both a browser client and a downloadable app is the answer?

Ultimately, though, these problems are either minor or soon to be ironed out, and they’re not enough to alter my decision: I’m backing out of Spotify’s driveway and moving to pastures new. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m busy replicating my Spotify playlists and my iTunes library in Music Unlimited, to form one glorious whole.

When offline playback comes to the iPhone app, I’ll be ready.

Link: Music Unlimited

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