Q: I'm an iPad owner that is overwhelmed by the number of applications available. Where should I start if I'm looking for a way to discover some new music?
Free | Version: 1.0 | Thesixtyone
"What kind of backwards society do we live in where we limit the genius of a Thom Yorke or Trent Reznor to a single vertical column?" asks this app's evangelical creator, making a fair point about iTunes' grid prison and other lame digital music album art. Enter Aweditorium, a daring attempt to remedy this problem. At heart it offers a way to discover and listen to new music. But what's new and delightful here are the multimedia extras woven into each song. You get: a fun-to-browse mosaic of album art; nicely rendered lyrics-as-subtitled; video interviews; pop-up blurbs about the band's history and influence; and sharing, bookmarking, and buying options. Prepare to be entranced.
STYLE GUIDE: At launch the app's stocked exclusively with tunes aimed mainly at the admittedly amorphous hipster set. That still gets you a wide swath of sounds, from angsty mellow to angry metal. (If you really feel at home, add www.thesixtyone.com to your web browser; it's an online sibling of this app.) Artists get included by application only, which is how the app gets its goodies (the info blurb, lyrics, and so on).
NAVIGATION STATION: Lots of different ways to explore: tap any photo; finger pan around the large mosaic; or, once you're listening to a song, swipe in any direction. That box in the upper-left corner is a miniature of the collection -- tap any spot to move there. The green dot represents the center of your screen, gray bars are songs you've heard. Other colors show the exploratory locations of fellow listeners (great for seeing clusters of interest).
FUN FACTS: Your treats play out while the song plays. You can finger drag the pop-up info boxes, which appear at random intervals. The lower-right icon goodies let you: pause/play; share and collect your faves; find other songs by the same artist and shop on iTunes; watch video interviews while listening to the song; watch full-screen videos; and head back to the main grid.
LYRIC LIST: When you're in full screen photo mode, tap the screen once any time to see the lyrics at the bottom of the screen. If you do nothing at the song's end, the app scrolls a new one onscreen for you. But the whole point is to poke around. If you don't like what you're hearing, pinch or swipe for something new; there's a nice fade-out/fade-in effect as you move between songs.
HONORABLE MENTION: BANDMATE: CONCERT TIPSTER HD
$2.99 | Version: 3.4 | WellAlright
So Aweditorium's got you in a musical sort of mood. Ready for the real thing? Here's a wonderful way to discover who's playing live. The app starts with a deep tissue study of your iPad's music. The Events tab then lists where and when each band is playing, along with other acts Bandmate thinks you'll like. (Use the Artists tab to turn off musician you don't want the app to factor in. Or, manually add in ones not in your iTunes collection.) You can instruct the app to search for events near your current location or in another city. Oddly precise strength-of-match percentages appear next to each recommendation (Pink Floyd is 71% similar to ex-lead singer Roger Waters, which, on second thought, sounds just about right).
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Excerpted from Peter Meyers' Best iPad Apps: The Guide for Discriminating Downloaders. Copyright 2010 O'Reilly Media, Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission.
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