App Reviewed on: iPad 2
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GrooveBug, just released this summer, is a powerful music aggregator of content from Echonest (the increasingly popular music intelligence platform), YouTube, Wikipedia, and other public sources, driven by a custom-programmed engine. It’s been called “the Flipboard experience, but for music”, and it claims to reduce or eliminate the need to monitor different channels of information to keep up with favorite bands and musical artists. It does all this in an intuitive, “magazine-style” format that highlights attractive images from cover art, concerts, and artist photos. I don’t really follow any bands but I think that GrooveBug really shines when it comes to turning you on to new music. Unlike the iTunes Genius service, GrooveBug also provides relevant background information from various different sources, as well as different media formats, for those who like to know more about the music they listen to, where it comes from, what inspired it, and even where to buy tickets for the next concert.
GrooveBug starts by analyzing music stored on the iPad (I had to transfer some over to try it out), then sorts the artists it finds into various genres. Start by touching a specific genre for a surprisingly well-written description, along with example artists that typify that genre. Touch an artist and get a bio displayed over a slowly cycling background of artist images, taken from public sources. Swipe the screen and get a discography with the option to preview (and hopefully buy) additional songs via iTunes. Keep swiping and users will see YouTube videos, news articles, Twitter content, and finally an interactive listing of similar artists, represented by a cool 45” record metaphor.
The only thing which tripped me up a few times was the “Home” button, situated in the lower right hand corner of the screen; for some reason I never looked there first when I wanted to return to the app’s main screen, instead of swiping over and over again to get out of the wormhole I’d just traveled into. Therein lies an inherent weakness of the drill-down philosophy this app uses; it’s only possible to travel vertically through the hierarchy, not travel across. However, the app’s visually appealing interface and highly engaging content makes that a very minor problem.
I agree with commenters in the iTunes Store and elsewhere on the ‘net: GrooveBug is definitely one to watch. The interface feels just a tiny bit rough but it’s a fantastic start to something that has a lot of potential growth. And unlike Flipboard, which casts the aggregation net wide instead of deep, GrooveBug might have created something sustainable and satisfying by focusing on a subject which has a lot of relevant content.