Developer: PixiApps
Price: $2.99
Version: 1.0
App Reviewed on: iPhone 4

iOS Integration Rating: ★★★★½
User Interface Rating: ★★★½☆
Re-use / Re-play Value Rating: ★★★★★

Overall Rating: ★★★★½

I’ve never been very happy with the standard iOS music player. I don’t particularly like the list view, and the album “flipper” in landscape view has always seemed nice, but not very functional. I’ve also never been happy with the few play modes it offers, either. The more I play with Ecoute, however, the more I’m convinced that I’ve found a worthy alternative.

Ecoute is a music app that makes sorting and listening to music stored on an iPhone just a little more efficient than the standard app. It features a clean interface that lays out music in a 3×3 grid, sorting it by artist, album, genre and more. But even more than that, it offers multiple play modes, and that really makes me happy.

One of the things I’ve never liked about the standard music app is how it breaks up albums and re-sorts songs by alphabetical order when trying to listen to all the music by a particular artist. This is especially annoying when trying to listen to a double-album. Ecoute handles it much more gracefully, playing singles and albums in their entirety, in track order. This, alone, makes Ecoute a wonderful alternative to the standard app.

As clean and tight as Ecoute’s interface is, it might be just a bit too clean. At first, I thought Ecoute didn’t support playlists, until I accidently slid the sorting bar at the top and realized that there were more features hidden within. Even better, by holding down a button, I discovered that the bar can be rearranged any way a user might like it. Applying this behavior to everything else on the screen, I realized I could play and shuffle any song, playlist or album in the same way. But it was only by playing around with the app that I discovered all of this. The interface can be something of a puzzling experience, for new users.

Other nice features that round out Ecoute include gestures that let users advance to the next or previous track simply by swiping left or right, as long as they are in the “player” view. Then there are the social networking options that allow users to send what tracks they are listening to to Last.FM and Twitter. Perhaps these features aren’t all that important, but they’re nice to have.

Based on my time with Ecoute, I’m more than ready to switch forever. It offers more features than the standard app and even handles playing music in way I find better than the standard app. It does take some getting used to, but it’s worth it.

PLEASE NOTE that, according to the developer, there is a bug in version 1.0 which causes the app to crash with libraries over 20,000 songs. This reviewer did not experience any crashes, but the developer is aware of the problem and an update has been submitted to Apple.

Posted in: iPad Apps and Games, iPad Music, iPhone Apps and Games, Music, Reviews

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