THE THIRD INSTALLMENT OF OUR SEMI-REGULAR FEATURE:
“WHY DOES THE APPLE UX TEAM HATE MUSIC?”
We spent most of last week discussing the abysmal state of the default iOS 7 music player- mainly that it’s pretty but not exactly high-functioning. Without any further lamentations, I offer what I believe is the best app in the game: Picky, by developer Charles Joseph.
You have the standard three sorting options (listed in decreasing hierarchical order: Artists, Albums, Songs), plus playlists. The primary draw for me was that the artist list can be filtered to only list artists for whom you have more than N songs, where N is a user-specified integer between 1 and 30 (I find that 7 does the trick, personally). This takes me from an artist list of 964 entries down to a far more manageable 228. Artists are represented by the album cover of the earliest work in the library, which is a classy touch.
Each artist sub-menu is sortable by title or ascending/descending release date, a feature I have literally been missing since 2010 (when I surrendered my iPod to become an iOS person), as well as a “play all” option. The individual album sub-menu features a shuffle button, and a clever mechanic to build a custom queue. My listening habits don’t demand this functionality, but it’s quite well executed:
It is also worth noting that the developer has done an amazing job of deeply and seamlessly integrating this with whatever under-the-hood machinery drives the standard iOS 7 music player. Play counts are recorded as normal, and playlists, including “smart” playlists, appear almost exactly as they should (one glitch: folders of playlists appear under the “Smart Playlists” heading, and humorously include every single song in your library! But: the playlists that should have been in that folder? They’re just fine, in their proper place in the alphabetic list).
A recent update even integrated functionality of sub-sorting the “compilations”-tagged albums into their own space (accessed at the very top of the “Albums” sorting screen), addressing the most niche feature I could have hoped to make it to Picky. I use it to tease out classical music, film scores, soundtracks and mixes from friends from more ‘primary sources’ such as LP/EP/Singles.
Picky’s settings are mostly sprinkled throughout the app itself, but a few more global settings live in their own page, featuring the details of artist sorting (giving you a choice to sort by either the “artist” or “album artist” fields, or to combine them!) and some aesthetic tweaks. The latter gives you access to the dynamically colored player (gives the player a hue to match the dominant color of album art), which is fantastically executed. It also can toggle artist images, the appearance of “cloud music” (something your humble blogger, old-fashioned as he is, can not comment on), and the ‘dark theme’ for those preferring a player with a little more… black.
So that’s a brief overview of the app. At time of press, it was $1.99 on the US app store- and I just can’t emphasize enough how completely worth the money it is for anyone giving even a fraction-of-a-damn about how their music is sorted. As a parting thought, when I started using Picky in November of 2013 I reached out to developer Charles Joseph about how much I liked the app, as well as with a few requests. He proved quite friendly and receptive, and less than one year later, I’ve seen the app meet every desire and expectation I had for it. Buy his app and start enjoying your library again.
Picky is available for purchase on the iTunes Store.