Shazam – the guys who brought you the awesome app that tells you what music is playing – have launched a new, free player app for iOS designed to replace your regular iPod app. Its greatest feature is the unique lyric display option, but it also comes complete with some playlist building and social functions.
LyricPlay is a fancy way of displaying lyrics for known songs. The app will scan your library upon first launch, and attempt to match them to lyrics on their server. For those it does find, you’ll be able to activate a landscape mode for karaoke, whereby lyrics will be displayed using various fancy 3D graphics, timed to sync with the music. Here are some screenshots of it in action – bonus points if you can name the songs in the comments (no Googling!)
It’s important to know that this function will NOT work with your ID3 lyric data – the lyrics you have copy-pasted in from various sources will not show. Instead, it uses proprietary lyric and timing information from their own servers, so even if your MP3 has the lyrics attached, the LyricPlay feature will not work with that. There is however a regular “lyric sheet” option that just displays a static page of ID3-embedded lyrics – just not fancy flying graphics and what have you.
For the most part, LyricPlay works well – though I was thoroughly disappointed to find that from my ultimate karaoke album – Bat Of Out Hell II, Meat Loaf – only one song was found to have matching lyrics. If you just want to sing, there’s an option to only show songs with lyric data found – or you can just use the app to play everything regardless of whether it has lyrics or not.
While it was fun for a while, I have to ask myself how many people regularly sing to their phone? Now don’t get me wrong – I have been known to sing to my iMac on numerous occasions – but that has far better sound to drown out my own singing.
Should you feel the need, you can tweet or post a status update of what you’re listening to. I think I speak for everyone when I say that this is possibly the most useful feature a music app could ever have (/sarcasm).
YouTube & Tour Dates
From the player view you can jump straight to a YouTube video search of that song, and play them in-app without the usual task switching, which is nice. Finally, there’s the tour dates button which will search for tours of that particular artist or suggest some other similar ones close to you. I feel it’s important at this point to let you know that Meat Loaf is apparently no longer touring, and that makes me very sad.
The first time I used the app it had serious performance issues and eventually just froze – that’s on an iPhone 4, though a restart seemed to fix that. It also doesn’t appear to play nicely with iTunes Match – while clicking on one of the songs and waiting 5 seconds for playback to start as it streamed from the cloud, the app froze – but upon relaunch, the song had vanished. I’m hoping they can fix that.
One unique feature is the ability to make good and bad playlists. The good playlist is basically the same as the on the go feature that iPods have (used to have?), while the bad playlist will prevent tracks from playing in shuffle mode. To add tracks to either, just hold your finger on them for a second or two from the player, then choose which to send them to.
To be honest, I don’t really see the use of a playlist for bad songs. Presumably if they’re that bad, you wouldn’t have them on your phone in the first place.
Is It Worth It?
It’s free, and when a song has LyricPlay it is kind of cool. Bugs and performance aside though, I just don’t think the additional “features” are compelling enough to justify me switching from the familiar iPod app. It’s not bad, per se, but it would be nice if the flying lyrics thing worked with existing lyrics, and frankly I can’t forgive them for only having one Meat Loaf song in their library.
What do you think? Love it? Or do you think it’s useless? Let us know in the comments – or perhaps you know of a better alternative?