Who was it that said music should be a visual experience as well as an audio one? Nobody, from what I can tell.
But this app from Austria-based music discovery startup Spectralmind goes some way towards making music-discovery as visually rewarding as the actual listening experience. Well, almost.
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From the 28 million (give or take) iTunes songs, Sonarflow iTunes for iPhone and iPad sets about finding music based on the artists and genres you already listen to. It offers a very visual, and fairly intuitive, user interface for exploring both your music, and other music on iTunes.
Forget lists and searches, this is all about swiping and pinching as Sonarflow throws suggestions at you in an aesthetically-pleasing, dynamic-wordcloud kind of way.
In Discovery Mode Sonarflow recommends artists and songs based on the music on your device – so if you have Bob Dylan on there, you’ll see little bubbled-suggestions of artists such as Neil Young or Woody Guthrie.
It’s easy to identify the music that’s already on your device from the ones that it’s suggesting you should be interested in procuring from iTunes. The colored-in bubbles are your music – you can click on anything from ‘Rock’, ‘Classical’ and ‘Speech’, to individual artists’ names, which take you directly to their back-catalog stored on your player.
The music it suggests you likely will be interested in is white, with a lined-circle around it. When you click on one of these, you’re whisked off to to make your purchase. New music can be listened to in Sonarflow for 30 seconds before you decide to buy.
You can zoom in-and-out by pinching, and search your collection visually by swiping left, right, up and down. The alignment of the bubbles tells you the proximity of the different music styles to another, and the colors represent the genre – ‘Rock’ is red, ‘Country & Folk’ is brown, and so on.
If you zoom into a bubble, it displays several artists. One level below, you’ll find the albums of these artists.
To get a full grasp of what Sonarflow offers, it’s worth having a play around to get to grips with the app. Whether this is your ideal way of discovering new music or not, it’s certainly a beautiful way of searching your own library – I have about 30GB of music on my iPod Touch, but I only ever listen to a fraction of that, so this offers a new way of seeing what I’ve got.
“Lists simply fall short of the almost infinite variety of the iTunes music catalogue,” says Thomas Lidy, CEO of Spectralmind. “The colorful Sonarflow bubbles are much better suited for discovering new music, as they enable the user to zoom in and open up more and more music levels. Sonarflow for iTunes unlocks a whole new musical universe in an intuitive and interactive way.”
Spectralmind is based in Vienna, Austria, and its core competence is in the automatic analysis of audio, especially music. Sonarflow iTunes accompanies the startup’s other release – Sonarflow Spotify – which does a similar job on your iOS device, except it integrates with your Spotify account.
The ad-free version of this app will set you back €1.59 ($1.99 USD), while the version with ads is – unsurprisingly – free.