App Preview: Koto Player
It hasn’t been announced yet, but given the number of “we’ll release it when webOS 2.0 is released” music player apps, we can all but assume that the music indexer API promised early last year is in fact present in the updated operating system. While apps like Music Player (Remix) promise to take advantage of it and other webOS 2.0 features, we’re now seeing our first glimpses of the new players (pun only partially intended) to come onto the scene.
Koto Player, from developer Will Honey (the man behind Tibfib's Mojo Messenger and Countdown Puzzles), was created from scratch for webOS 2.0. What makes Koto unique is that in nearly every scene has a mini controller to manage your music playback. The mini controller, located at the bottom of each page with buttons to take you to the now playing screen, controls for back play/pause, and forward, and bring up a progress scrubber. Again, all of this, in practically every scene (the standard back, play/pause, and forward are in the dashboard panel for use while in other apps). Unlike the stock music player app, the scrubber here allows you to simply tap to jump to a specific spot instead of having to drag to move around.
When in the now playing scene (with album art and track list views, just like the stock music app), the progress scrubber is always present, and the now playing button and scrubber buttons are replaced by a more options button and shuffle. Shuffle is pretty self explanatory, it, well, shuffles, while the more options button brings up a list of, well, more options.
The options provided vary depending on what scene you’re in. In the now paying views you get options such as Save All to Playlist, repeat options, Song Details (track your play counts, ratings, etc), lyrics, tweet song (post what you’re playing to Twitter), and and Continue with Album. The latter choice allows you to jump into the album of the currently playing song (if, say, you’re listening to a mixed playlist) without interrupting playback of the currently playing song.
Additionally, these kind of options and more are available for individual songs when browsing a list, be it a playlist, album, genre, or what have you. These include adding the song to a playlist (or create a new playlist), play next, play last, and save as a favorite. Play next and play last allow you to queue up songs and playlists for later in the playlists without interrupting your current playback. You can also hold and drag to reorder songs in a playlist, and swipe to delete a playlist entry.
All of this is before you even get to the now playing scene. What’s unique here is the album art view’s options for switching between songs. A swipe up on the album art puts you into a quasi card view: a horizontal scroller of album covers in the current playlist. You can swipe around to browse the other songs in the playlist, and then once you find something else you want to play, swipe down to switch to that song. You can also tap on a song in this view to open the same options you’d have in list view. Again, all the while, the mini controller and progress scrubber are visible and usable.
Koto Player allows for the creation of custom playlists, along with auto playlists. Your options in the auto category include your top rated songs, most played, and recently played. All auto playlists are based on the meta data recorded during your playback of everything. Custom playlists are your more traditional playlists, built and set from your choices.
Apart from the music indexer API in webOS 2.0, Koto Player also will ship with support for webOS 2.0’s Just Type search. Searching can bring up results for song names, artists, albums, and playlists, and items that you’ve saved as favorites will appear at the top of matching search results. Tapping a search result for a song or playlist will automatically play it, while selecting an artist or album will open a view of that artist’s or albums songs (without playing).
Right now Koto Player is currently in a closed beta (you may have seen some tweets from testers), and Honey still has more major features in the works, but he’s keeping it under wraps for now. Koto Player is planned for release in January, 2011, assuming that webOS 2.0 is available this month.