Neil Turner's Blog

Blogging about technology and randomness since 2002

App of the Week: Ecoute

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Screenshot of EcouteThis week’s app is a music player called Ecoute, for iOS devices. It’s an alternative to the default Music app, with a different interface and some extra features.

Browsing artists, albums, genres and playlists is done using a grid (three across on my iPhone) rather than a plain list, with cover art coming into play. It therefore offers a more visual way to browse compared with Apple’s Music app.

Tapping the ‘Now Playing’ bar at the bottom opens up the screen shown in the screenshot. Album art is shown front and centre and the background changes to match it, in the same way that Notification Centre and Control Centre do in iOS 7. In fact, the interface feels very at home in iOS 7 – as if Apple had designed it themselves.

Tapping the clock icon opens up the list of songs Ecoute intends to play next – random, if on shuffle, or whatever’s next in the current album or playlist if not – and you can re-order or delete songs. The three dots let you access the song’s lyrics, share the artist and title to Facebook and Twitter, or ‘love’ the track on last.fm. Left and right swipes let you go to the next or previous track, although you can also tap the icons as normal if you wish.

Tapping the album art takes you back to the menu screens – a not too obvious gesture that took me a few minutes to work out when I was first testing this app a couple of weeks ago.

I mentioned last.fm – Ecoute will scrobble your plays for you in real-time. This means that you don’t need to sync with iTunes to upload your scrobbles. The downside is that, at least in my experience, it’s a bit flaky – some track scrobbled multiple times and others seemingly not at all (Update: This has been fixed as of April 2014). However, unlike last.fm’s own Scrobbler app (reviewed last year) it will scrobble in the background on iOS 7 and doesn’t require the app to be open.

AirPlay support is also included, and you can play podcasts without using the Apple’s separate Podcasts app. However, Ecoute doesn’t appear to be able to manage podcast downloads, so you’ll either have to keep the Podcasts app installed or sync with iTunes.

I’ve been using Ecoute as my default player for a couple of weeks now (after it was featured on Lifehacker) and have come to like it. It feels like it was designed for iOS 7, and not simply re-skinned to match the new look like Apple’s Music app was. I certainly plan to carry on with it.

Ecoute is available in the App Store for £2, or $3.

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