App Review: Amigo Music Player
Amigo Music Player (for webOS 2.x devices only), by Ryhor Burakou, is what you might call a very resourceful alternative to the built-in Music Player application that comes with webOS devices. It takes the simple concept and tasks that come with being a music player, and creates an experience that is so fast and optimized for performance that few other apps could match it with what it does. While the interface is simple, and the tasks that it performs are simple by nature, the application is a great example of the improvements that can be made just in the structure of an app so that it gets out of the way of what you want to do.
Enhanced performance is not the only good thing about this app, though, and over the days that I used it I found myself hoping that it would be getting some really great updates. Updates that are needed if the developer is going to be a major competitor in the webOS music app game. But to leave you with an impression that this app is not worth checking out would be unfair, because it definitely is. Just hop on over the break to read the rest of this review.
Amigo Music Player does exactly what it needs to do as a simple and effective music player. You have your basic controls; play, pause, repeat, shuffle, etc... and a few nice features like Last.FM integration and custom playlists that come pretty standard with music apps these days. When I first opened the app, I was relieved to see the simple interface that I would be using. Getting into your music and navigating it is pretty straight-forward, and with only a few exceptions, it was easy to know exactly what to do before watching the tutorial video on YouTube. It was actually a nice break from what many developers seem to be going for these days. That is, cramming as much into one view as possible and cluttering the experience.
Getting started is simple: after you've gone through the short setup process to get all of your media files added to the library, you can quickly scroll and tap through different scenes to play music from your favorite artists, albums, genres or random songs for the moment. The Now Playing view puts just about everything that you need right at your fingertips and anything that you don't regularly need is hidden nicely from view until you tap some specific spots (like the title of the song or the app menu). Tapping those spots gives you access to viewing the lyrics, copying the name, album and artist of the song, or choosing to repeat/shuffle after the current song is over.
When you're ready to browse through your library (of music AND videos) again to find the next song, just tap on the album artwork in the middle of the screen and you'll be taken to the main view right away. And then once you're ready to go back, just tap on the album artwork again that shows in the top left corner and the menus/lists will disappear to reveal the Now Playing screen once again. The app also comes with landscape mode for when you use a Touchstone, and allows for quick views of the current playlist (tap the microphone on the top left). Check out this video to see how it all works:
I can't fail to mention again that this is all done very quickly and efficiently. When comparing this to other music players from the catalog, Amigo is very fast to boot up and doesn't cause your device to slow down while running. I was even able to play advanced PDK games while listening to music from Amigo without any problems, just as the developer said I would be able to. When using the stock music player (or other apps), this just simply isn't the case. If you need a music player that is fast and efficient with device resources, this is definitely the one to get.
Even though there are some small things that I wished were changed....
With all of its speed and simplicity, Amigo still leaves a little bit to be desired with additional features. Perhaps I'm spoiled, but after using apps like Music Player Remix by Hedami, I love being able to quickly tap and share the song that I'm listening to on Twitter or Facebook with a link to a YouTube video playing that song. Yes there is Last.FM, but it's not a service that I typically find myself wanting to use, and I'm sure that there are many users of Amigo that don't even know what Last.FM is (there is no explanation of it in-app).
I also had a curiously difficult time actually finding the playback controls that are only displayed after tapping the title of the song in the Now Playing screen. Two things would make this simpler to find (and remember for next time - I actually forgot once after finding it the first time): give the user some visual knowledge (like a down arrow) to know that they can tap it for something to appear, and also let these controls be made available by tapping the song title on any view (not just the Now Playing screen). Neither of these would take away from the simplicity of the app, but it would definitely make things easier to follow.
Lastly, the custom playlists feature works fine for adding one song to the list at a time, but for adding whole albums or artists it is a downright hassle (especially if you have hundreds of songs as I do). As of this release you can only add one song at a time to a playlist, and that's only after you've created it in the separate Playlists view (can't create it on the spot). When I tried to make a playlist of my favorite artists, it took a good 15 minutes to tap through several dozen albums and add each song individually. That's not really something I would look forward to doing again in the future.
The Future - Go ahead and try it out
If you're concerned that those problems are going to keep you from trying out this great little music player, than you'll have to pardon the time I took at getting to this point: The app is still under active development, and the developer has already responded to these problems that I listed here with a reassuring "It's coming." Perhaps not in the next immediate release, but in the near future, those problems will be addressed and fixed and other features will be added in.
When it comes down to it, the speed and ease of use of this app make it a very viable option when trying to pick an alternative music app from the catalog (rather than stick with stock options). And with the price being the most competitive of music apps (it's the lowest at $1.49) you really can't lose anything by trying it out.
As for me, I'm glad that I purchased the app and will leave it in my launcher to keep up with the updates as they come. Once a few things have been cleared up and some neat new features added (like an option to listen to the most recently added songs to the library) I'll definitely be going back to Amigo Music Player as my main media player. It's very resource friendly (can't stress that enough) and definitely seems to improve the battery life and experience I have with my Pre 2. But don't just take my word for it, try it out for yourself or read the comments below and see what others think.
Once you've made your decision on what to do, be sure to let us know in the comments. And keep your eyes open around here as well, the other music apps will be getting an official review soon to compare with this great one.