If you've been listening to a lot of Bob Dylan lately, but found yourself unable to sing along, then get ready. An iPhone app could once again save the day for you.
Lyrics+ is a lyric search application that works with your iPod collection to search for and display lyrics. Lyrics+ uses the LyricFind database to grab lyrics and display them right on your phone. Lyrics+ also mimics the function of the iPod (partially), but in addition to the iPod functions, Lyrics+ integrates and prominently displays lyrics so that you can read the lyrics as the song actually plays.
• Select and play a song from your iPod library
• Playing a song on the iPod, then opening Lyrics+ automatically displays the lyrics and iPod controls for that song.
• Search by song, artist, or lyrics
• When using the Lyrics+ search function, if you select a song result that happens to be in your library, the song begins playing and the lyrics are displayed
• Any previously viewed lyrics remain viewable offline
I tested Lyrics+ on my iPod library and generally found it to be a cool app. I liked it. I don't typically have a need for looking up lyrics, but it was cool to hear the song play and be able to read along with the the lyrics. However, after playing with this app, I found a MAJOR Achilles' heel. First, let's talk about what this app does well.
The UI is very simple and does a good job of not straying from the iPhone's natural look and feel. My favorite part of this app is it's ability to play a song and display its lyrics. The display is neat and the lyrics are contained in a scrollable window in the center of the main display with the current song's album artwork in the background.
Lyrics+ allows the user to select a song directly from their iPod library, too. Selecting a song that is in the library will play the song and display the lyrics for that song...if the lyrics are available
(see "The Bad" for more on this). Users can also search the database of songs to find lyrics by artist song title or by lyric.
One other cool feature of Lyrics+ is that if you are playing a song on your iPod and you start Lyrics+, the song continues to play uninterrupted and Lyrics+ immediately displays the lyrics and controls for that song. Likewise, if you play a song in Lyrics+, quitting the app allows the song to continue playing uninterrupted.
Clearly, a major limitation to this app is that not every song is in the lyrics database. I wanted to have some kind of empirical data for you, so I conducted a little experiment. Using Lyrics+, I randomly selected 50 songs from my iPod library. Of those 50 songs, Lyrics+ was able to display the lyrics for only 32 of them. For the other 18 songs, Lyrics+ displayed "Not Found". And just in case you're wondering, some of the songs that Lyrics+ could not display lyrics for are major label bands, including Dave Matthews Band, Switchfoot and even some U2. That's a mere 64% accuracy. That's not too great for an app whose purpose is to find lyrics. I'm also deducting 10 Cool Points for Lyrics+ not finding any lyrics for any of U2's latest album.
Earlier I mentioned finding an Achilles' heel for Lyrics+. It took me a few minutes to realize this, but the main problem with Lyrics+ is that it is a paid app! There is nothing short of a plethora of lyrics sites on the internet. Why on earth would I pay $2 for a lyric-finding app that has less than a 70% chance of finding the lyrics I'm looking for? All it takes is a quick Google search for the lyrics of nearly any song in existence. In a blink (assuming you're not on EDGE), I could be looking at the lyrics I want just by using Safari on my iPhone.
That being the case, the only useful function of this app that I can find is the ability I mentioned earlier to read the lyrics to a song as it plays...but even that can be duplicated by using Safari with the iPod playing in the background. So essentially, the ultimate "Bad" of Lyrics+ is that it costs you $2 to do what the iPhone can already do natively.
From a design and UI perspective, Lyrics+ is actually a decent app. The problem is in it's concept. Using the iPhone's native functionality, it's easy to duplicate for free what Lyrics+ costs $2 to do. Unless it's free, Lyrics+ is simply not worth the download. If you find yourself constantly needing lyrics to songs, simply find a few decent lyrics sites on the internet and save them as a bookmark to your home screen and use that $2 you saved to do something nice for someone special.