App Preview: Koto Player | webOS Nation
 
 

App Preview: Koto Player 34

by Derek Kessler Wed, 05 Jan 2011 11:26 am EST

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.

34 Comments

This will be the year of HP Palm...

am I correct to assume thay the closed beta is only for those with webOS 2.0?

this music player looks *very* promising. the functionality looks very useful, and i really appreciate the way it stays within webOS's excellent UI conventions rather than being different just for the sake of being different.

I hate 2.0 teasers. lol. I think Im more excited for the update than anything else right now.

last.fm integration?

Last.fm scrobbling is already enabled :)

Nice review Derek. This app looks really clean.

It looks nice, but for my money, Music Player Remix looks better.

unique, yes, but idk about better. i know the developer means well, and i think it's a great app, but the UI is not at the level of polish that i could be and uses some UI conventions that are out-of-place for webOS just for the sake of being different. different and better would be welcomed, but different for different, and sometimes not as good, isn't.

+1

(big time)

M.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't Music Player Remix do most of this now without the need of WebOS 2.0?

The public beta of Music Player (Remix) is compatible with webOS 1.4.x; however my private beta requires webOS 2.0. The private beta, similar to Koto, will be the one submitted to the app catalog after webOS 2.0 is released.

Yep, I didn't bother to use the old media indexer APIs to build a 1.X compatible version. I waited specifically for the media indexing APIs to build Koto.

Thank you both for your comments. Makes sense. Glad to see choice in the media player realm coming to the App Cat finally with 2.0.

Does Koto Player support any new codecs? A lot of us are still waiting for FLAC playback.

Nope, sorry. that'll have to come from palm :(

Me and nyuepik are building a brand new music player with FLAC, WMA, etc. Codec support and an equalizer and true gapless playback by analzing and manipulating sound waves.

Awesome! Is there a thread on the forums where I can track the progress?

Nice!

Very nice looking app indeed.

Derek, while it hasn't been officially announced, the media indexing API is present in webOS 2.0. At the Palm Dev conference I asked Gray Norton (Sr. Product Manager of SW Platform & Tools at HP) whether it was ok to divulge this information to my users and he said it was. So yes, it's official...music apps will be allowed in the catalog following the release of webOS 2.0.

Do any of you guys know if the asx format will be supported in 2.0? Cumulus radio streams all of their stations in this format. It's killing me not being able to listen to the Ticket in Dallas on my phone!

It is really nice to see apps like this coming to webos. I am currently using an android phone (evo 4g) but I am definitely coming back to webos because it is the best. I love music and my phone is my music player so I would like to get a music player that I can enjoy using. The prize does not mater to me as long as it does what I want. I am currently using a music app on my evo called PowerAmp which doesn't do a lot of things this app does (according to the review) but I just love it because it is better than the built-in music app and because of the equalizers (I need that) and the quality sound. I still have my last Palm Pre in good condition so I will try this app when it comes out with webos 2.0 hopefully soon. keep up the good work.

What's really interesting is the design and layout differences between MPR, NanPlayer, and Koto.

Blubble and DanPLC opted to completly rewrite the interfaces to their own imaginations while it seems Will used the internal Mojo framwork elements. Not knocking MPR or NP at all, I think Koto showcases the power the native UI can attain with some creativity.

The best part is choice! :)

okay ces seems to have started when does palm come on

What a breath of fresh air! Simple, *intuitive* GUI!

Almost makes me want to try and FrankenPre my phone...

M.

P.S.
Anyway to incorporate Ampache Streaming into this? :-)

Seriously. MPR really tries to do too much with its layout. It even acts like it's the only app you're running, with how it has 3 of those mini-bars enabled by default. It's good on features, but it's beaten by NaNPlayer and now Koto Player, UI-wise, easily. It's definitely benefited from lack of real competition.

I've already deleted three attempts at leaving a comment here that includes a reference to MPR, but every one of them turned into a few paragraph detailing of everything wrong with it, so I left it nice and simple like this new GUI.

Dan's very aware of how I feel about MPR-2.* anyway, so it'd be kinda pointless to drone on about it to the masses and just come off as a lunatic (more than I already do :-) ).

All I can really say, and to keep it simple, is that I can't wait for HPalm to get 2.* out so this can be my music player of choice.

Think Big. Think Small. Think Beyond. That can all be accomplished by thinking SIMPLE & INTUITIVE.

M.

i echo your sentiments. this post is about Koto anyhow, not MPR. now i just want 2.0 to be released so we can all start playing with Koto and help improve it.

flac...asx...

Yes, and what about support for .ogg? It's my understanding that there *still* isn't a player that plays ogg vorbis files on the Pre.

MY KINGDOM FOR A MUSIC APP WITH AN EQUALIZER!!!!!

Seriously. Why is it one of the most critical aspects of listening to music is completely IGNORED by every music app available?

I mean, MPR is nice and all, but when all my music sounds like it's being played from a tin can then what's the point?

There are no APIs available for developers to use equalizers. If there were, Koto and I'm sure all other music apps would have them.

Thanks for the preview derek!

-Will Honey

NaNplayer ftw!

love to see gapless playback