Developer: Gravity Mobile
App Reviewed on: iPhone 4, iPad 2
iOS Integration Rating:
User Interface Rating:
Re-use / Replay Value Rating:
It’s always a bother sorting through a large music library on an iOS device to make playlists for a specific vibe or occasion. Innumerable apps try to make the process easier, and the most recent to grab the spotlight is HABU Music. Using an almost entirely graphical design for its interface, and relying on songs already loaded onto an iPhone, HABU sorts through all those tracks and places them onto a map of 25 circles each representing playlists that have names like brooding, cool, gritty or empowering. How much use one’s likely to get depends upon the size of their music collection, but with a large library HABU delivers appropriate selections to suit any state of mind.
Powered by Gracenote, the app searches through its vast catalog of song metadata and its MoodGrid. As a result, HABU is a little sluggish at launch. It needed about 15 minutes to sort through my library of 1630 songs. But the wait can be interesting. As it scans, the individual mood circles start filling in. Bigger brighter green circles mean more tracks. HABU’s secondary function becomes apparent here. It quickly became painfully obvious what sort of music I am partial to (“Positive” with sizeable smattering of “Dark”) and I was able to share that self-reflective info-nugget on Facebook. Unfortunately, that's it for social networking, and that's a wasted opportunity for users who like to share what they listen to and for Gravity Mobile to build brand recognition.
HABU shies away from menus. Users just tap a circle to play a mood mix. The trouble is, there is nothing on the map to indicate which circles represent which moods beyond their proximity to four general types that serve as axis. We’re expected to tap around and explore, which can be tedious and without great visual recall, an oft-repeated process. There's no "now playing" screen or panel either, which would be useful. Once I found the right disposition, HABU mixed genres and created a playlist I would certainly never have put together myself, yet thoroughly enjoyed. If 25 moods aren’t enough to choose from, a map with 100 circles is available too.
Once playlists are made they don’t change, so with frequent use things are likely to start sounding a bit familiar. To remedy this ennui HABU offers music discovery. Using the same Gracenote metadata tag search, the app can suggest an entire list based on a mood or tracks similar to a favortie. The resulting playlists have only song samplings, however, with links taking users to iTunes for purchasing.
HABU Music offers a fun way to rediscover music already owned, the playlists it creates are moodily on key, and the GUI is lovely. But, with a maximum of 125 static playlists the app’s shelf life, at least for a music junkie, is limited.