Ecoute for iOS

Ecoute Lands for the iPhone, Brings Along Gorgeous Pixels

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Ecoute for Mac has been on of my favorite Mac apps. It comes in a tiny package and yet manages to do so much for me. There’s no doubt that iTunes today has become one big bloated crap of a software, so Ecoute works like a charm when you have to just listen to your music library in peace without all the clutter that iTunes brings. If you haven’t already, give Ecoute for OS X a try — there’s a good chance you’ll love it.

So when I heard that PixiApps was bringing Ecoute to the iPhone as well, I was obviously excited. While there’s nothing really wrong with the iPod app on iPhone, it’s become a little too boring and lacks a few new features that are starting to pop up in some 3rd party music apps. Moreover, iOS is home to some fantastically designed apps and UI conventions, so I was excited to see what Ecoute for iOS was about to bring to the table. And if you ask me, it doesn’t disappoint at all.

Ecoute features a completely custom user interface with a heavy focus on Album Artwork. You have a gorgeous textured background against which the album artwork is laid out in a 3 column grid. Scrolling with your finger to the extreme right of the screen engages the super scroll mode so you can jump directly to any alphabet. Unlike every conventional iOS app, Ecoute features a tab bar at the top in place of the navigation bar and replaces the tab bar at the bottom with a status and action bar for the current playing song. Ecoute calls these as “Filters” and you can swipe between between Artists, Albums, Songs, Genres, Genius and other similar filters and even move them around, so the 5 most frequently used ones are always on tap away, the sixth one being the search option.

The bar at the bottom displays what song is currently playing, along with a simple play/pause button and an action button to share the song to Twitter or scrobble it to Last.fm. You can pull up this bar to reveal the ‘player’ and you have a nice view of a big artwork in the center and controls at the bottom. Tap the album artwork once and you can view the integrated lyrics or tap twice to change over to the song list view. The player controls have a ‘Heart’ button and a Airplay button as well. I really liked the transitions when a song changes and the new album artwork slowly fades in to place.

The screen to share to Last.fm and Twitter is gorgeous as well. Ecoute supports the iOS 5 Twitter integration, but surprisingly doesn’t throw a tweet sheet at you. Instead, you can customize what syntax you want to use for the tweet (For eg: #nowplaying <Title> by <Artist> from the album <Album>) and Ecoute then gives you one-tap sharing to these services — you can choose any or both.

There are little moments of joy in the app when you discover something new in the app. For example, tapping and holding a album gives you the option to “View All” the songs in it, which are displayed as a list in a little card that shows up from the bottom and you can dismiss it by either tapping outside or swiping it off from the bottom.

I love the color scheme they have used for Ecoute and pretty much love every UI decision they look. My only quibble is that when dismissing the player screen, I tend to swipe down my Notification Center instead. Ecoute for iOS is still a very solid and polished app and is a great little replacement for listening to your music library on your iPhone. It’s available on the App Store for just $2.99.