Twitter #music (Free) by Twitter, Inc. is Twitter’s new free music app, which was released this morning. Like Vine, it is designed only for the iPhone, but the service is also available on the Web. Rumors of a music service first surfaced in March, after news broke that Twitter had purchased We Are Hunted, a music site that scoured the Internet for fresh talent and hot new songs.
We Are Hunted delivered its stream of music results in an easily-navigable tile-based interface, which is also present in the #music app. Open the app and you will see a series of tiles representing different artists on Twitter.
The #music app aggregates popular and trending songs (note that it does not feature entire albums) on the site, providing a wide range of available music to listen to. For example, one of the first songs is Psy’s newest track, which was released last week. Other top-ranked tiles include songs from Demi Lovato, Pink, Robin Thicke, and Taylor Swift.
Only the top 140 songs that are trending are displayed in the tiled view, and each one is numbered, so you know exactly where a particular song ranks. If you tap on a tile it will enlarge slightly, giving a bit more information on the band and the trending song. This is a system that works surprisingly well for music discovery, and the tiles are intuitively designed for easy use.
Tapping the playback button will play an iTunes preview of the song, and at any point while the preview is ongoing, you can tap to purchase the song on iTunes. If you do not tap, the app will automatically move on to the next preview, which is actually a fun way to sample new music.
There’s a music control button on the bottom left side of the screen. If you double tap it, you will get a bigger window with several other options that will allow you to use AirPlay to play the song through the Apple TV or tweet the current song you are listening to, with comments. You can also navigate directly to the Twitter profile of the artist you’re listening to, where you can follow an artist, and adjust the volume.
In addition to providing a listing of the top 140 most popular songs on Twitter, you can also access additional categories that feature emerging artists, suggested music that you might like (based on other artists that you follow within the app), and music that’s been tweeted by people you follow. You can swipe to these tabs right on the main screen, which is handy.
While listening to iTunes preview songs and having the ability to purchase songs is nice, the real power of Twitter #music comes through integration with both Spotify and Rdio. If you use one of these music services, you can log in and listen to songs within the #music app at full length.
Since I have Spotify, I linked my accounts and found that it was a fantastic way to discover artists I might not have stumbled on otherwise through the emerging category. Popular is fun too because it’s an ever-changing playlist of popular songs to go through. If you get tired of browsing, you can also search for specific songs, but Twitter’s aggregated lists are the best part of the #music app.
Though integration with Spotify is available, I do wish it went a bit deeper. For example, it would be nice to star songs within the #music app and add the songs to Spotify playlists to access later, which is not a possibility at this time.
You can, at any time, pull down to refresh each list of songs. This induces a bit of lag, however, especially when you access the section that lists music from people you follow, as it has to load small avatars as well as songs.
I was disappointed that I am only able to listen to one song from a particular artist. There’s no way to access a complete album. Instead, you get one song and then have to move on to a different artist entirely. For that reason it is good for discovering new music, but after finding an artist that I like, I need to move on to Spotify to truly get to the content that I want.
Despite the aforementioned limitations, Twitter #music is a great app. The tile design works beautifully, allowing users to swipe and browse through music with ease, and the song selection is varied and impressive. If you haven’t already downloaded it, go check it out. It’s well worth a few minutes of your time.