Quick Look: Amp Music Player for iPhone

[Note: this review has been overhauled, and you can see a more in-depth review here.]

Amp Music Player is a Zune-like music app for your iPhone. It’s a smart player that can look up relevant information on the song you’re playing (band bio, YouTube vids, concert dates) and features full access to the iPod.app library on your iPhone. The app also features a very customizable playlist and a skinnable interface, but after you see the Now Playing screen and in-app ads, you might think twice about using this app as your iPhone’s primary music player.

The developers of Amp haven’t described it as being Zune-like, but the text-based interface does remind me a lot of Microsoft’s Zune HD (or Windows Phone 7). You navigate the main sections by sliding text at the top of the screen, and even the artist and album selection is displayed as a gorgeous list on a dark background. It’s easy to find and select music to play, but it’s not all that different from the iPod

Unfortunately, the Now Playing screen seems to throw the idea of a text interface right out the window, and instead bombards you with all sorts of boxed-in images and buttons. I’m not saying that the designers had to keep the text interface in place — but the Now Playing screen feels much too crowded in comparison to the rest of the app, which is a shame, since it’s probably one of the screens you’ll be viewing most after you start a song within Amp.

The in-app ads display atop the list of your stored artists and albums, and they can range from online dating ads to IQ calculators. I found these little banners quite intrusive, and since Amp is only being offered for free for a limited time, I’m not sure why there have to be any ads at all.

All told, I probably played with Amp for about 20 minutes before giving up on it, and ten of those minutes were spent just having the app read my iPod library. You could use Amp to play music and have it automatically look up quick bits of information for your current song (no lyrics, though), or you could simply use your iPod.app coupled with SoundHound, Shazam Encore, or MusicID, and have a much better experience.

Amp is currently available for free, though I’m not sure for how long, or what the price will be when this sale ends.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/t1mchao Tim Chao

    I just downloaded the app and don't really see the points of your gripes. While it was loading your library the first time, why not just read the tutorial? There’s a lot of small features that I probably otherwise wouldn't have seen. It didn't take 10 minutes for me and I’ve got a 12 GB music library.

    Anyway, being able to buy tickets from within the app itself and skins are cool features, queuing alone makes this app SO WORTH the free download. Don’t see the point of complaining if it's free. This app is a GORGEOUS alternate to the stock iPod application…I think I'm going to undock the iPod app and put in amp.

    • http://isource.com Thomas

      EDIT: actually, you've made some good points here, and I may not have given the app enough time for a proper testing. I intend to update this review with more thorough impressions.
      —-
      I did read the tutorial — and I'm not actually saying the app took way too long to scan. You're right: it only happens the one time, and subsequent loads were just like any other app. I specified the amount of time to show that I hadn't used the app for that long. It just didn't jive with me.�

      My take on this is definitely subjective: the app does work as advertised, but I think it's far too busy for me to enjoy using instead of the iPod, despite the more beautiful library screen and queueing functionality.�

      Finally, it's not free forever, and that's why I commented about the ads. I wouldn't have liked this style of advertisement in any case (I prefer the less obtrusive Fusion ads), but I understand they're necessary to support free apps. However, if you look at the App Store, it does say Free for a Limited Time. Launch Sale. 100% Off. I just don't like seeing ads inside of paid apps.�

  • kazemizuhi

    About the apps visual style, it has 4 different skins right out of the box. A level of forward thinking not employed by Apple, the dev's of Sound Hound, Shazam or most other app dev's. I would have to agree that the default black is too cluttered on the Now Playing screen, but the alternate skins make it bearable. I might also add that my main purpose of using these apps is to listen to music. To that end the only screens that really matter are those in which I select my music; once that's done I turn my screen off and go about my business.

    With regard to the ads, I understand where you're coming from. However if they didn't have the ads in this 'free' version, they'd have to resubmit said 'free' version [to Apple] with ads included once the paid app was submited. Either way, it's not that bad. It is, after all, a 'free' version.

    You sang praises about it having a "very customizable playlist". I think it's more than that. This is the first time in the 3 years that iDevice users can create 'real' playlists on their device (note the plural)! When this topic comes up narrow-minded individuals point at the On-The-Go playlist in iPod app. By it's very name it's nature implies that it is only supposed to be used 'on the go', while the real playlist management is supposed to be done on the PC/Mac. For some of us (me), we actually spend most of our time 'on the go' with only enough time cook, eat, clean and perhaps catch the news before going to bed each evening.

    For fear I'm starting to rant, I'll simply say there is a demographic of us who have been forced to just accept Apple's substandard approach to music playback (you can't even sync individual songs from iTunes!?). There has been a significant need for playlist creation and management on the device; this app has delivered it. While I won't be able to export my playlists created in this app, it won't matter as this device is my primary music player on a daily basis. Songbird, iTunes an other players can created playlists instantly with 'smart-playlists' if I ever needed to.

    Regardless of the interface, ads or what not, for filling that niche of being able to create real playlists, this app deserves a 10 out of 10 in my books.