Developer: Muzine
Price: $.99
Version: 1.0
App Reviewed on: iPad 2

iPad Integration Rating: ★★½☆☆
User Interface Rating: ★★½☆☆
Re-use / Replay Value Rating: ★★★½☆

Overall Rating: ★★★☆☆

There are  a host of news app taking advantage of the big iPad screen to simulate the look of magazines. One that caught my eye is Muzine. The app borrows from Flipboard, Zite and AOL Editions to make a magazine that learns a user’s tastes and serves them personalized content. Muzine take the idea and runs in a musical direction. The app creates a magazine that is based in part on what’s generally hot, in part on which bands a user chooses to follows, and a dash of what friends are into.

Muzine opens to what looks like an issue of a slightly less glossy Rolling Stone or Spin. On first use, the app serves up the hottest stories across all genres. There is an artist tab for audiophiles to hunt down their preferred artists and the app found everything I looked for from the ‘60s to the present. But the experience wasn’t smooth. This section is not intended just to add artists to the feed, but to showcase them. From search onward, the experience is very slow – the app seems to be constantly loading, but don’t ask me what.

Once the lengthy search is complete, Muzine offers up several odd permutations including cover bands. The user must select their preference again. After this a page opens with news, biographies, photos, YouTube videos, Tour information and an option called “similar,” a sort of music discovery option, whose suggestions are neither deep nor especially intuitive.

There is also a music tab. The app description says full tracks can be heard in a integrated player, but after hours of testing the only thing I found in the music section was a note that the feature is coming soon. More disappointing, many of the YouTube links were broken or were of random people who happened to record themselves doing truly awful karaoke versions of an artist’s songs.

Reading the articles, whether the user is perusing the curated stories or those tailored to them, is a clunky affair. There is no native reader so Muzine just displays the original website in a small, oddly wobbly window. Forget offline reading. 

The biggest thing lacking is a like or dislike option. For reasons I can’t begin to fathom, my personal news section featured an article on Lady Gaga. I looked for a way of say “no more, thanks,” but there is none.

Muzine has the potential to be indispensible for music lovers if the developers do a serious GUI overhaul and get the music actually playing.  As it stands now, it’s nothing more than an awkward music news aggregator with a magazine-like cover. I’d stick with a Google reader or personalizing Flipboard or Zite to bring you the same news in a more elegant way.

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

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