The standard Music app on my iPhone has always been one of my favourite iPhone apps. It does what it does really well. Let’s be honest, for many of us, it was likely the reason we got an iPhone or an iPod Touch to begin with in the early days. Over the years though, there have been a lot of changes to the app. With the iPad, we really saw some huge changes. When the iPad 2 dropped, the iPad’s Music interface was rejiggered again and there was a huge outcry. With iOS 6, Apple gave the Music app a huge visual overhaul with a lot of chrome (which, for the record, looks terrible on anything smaller than the iPhone 5’s taller display). But there’s not a lot of new functionality to go with it.
iTunes for Mac, on the other hand, got a ton of new functionality last year. There’s absolutely no comparison. For all of its flaws, iTunes is still the best music player I know of for OS X. It’s a powerful jukebox. One of my favourite features from last year’s massive update was Up Next, a feature that lets you add any song and play it next before returning to your current playlist. I can’t tell you how handy this feature has been at my house parties. The iOS Music app still doesn’t have this feature (or many others). Party Monster aims to fix that.
Shuffling Your Party Up
Setting up Party Monster is insanely simple. When you boot up the app, you get to choose a playlist you want to shuffle. I’ve got thousands of songs and only put a couple thousand on my iPhone, so I just told the app to shuffle all of my music. After that, your music is automatically shuffled and placed into a list.
Instantly, I’m reminded of the DJ feature on iTunes. Taking a quick glance at the list, I know I’m not going to want to listen to some of this music. But I do love The Beatles, and “Come Together” is the third track in the list. Naturally, I want to listen to that song right now, so I slide over the song to the right to start the track.
As “Come Together” is playing, I go through the rest of the list. I see a track from a Dexter soundtrack, and I’m not in the mood. To knock it off the playlist, I swipe to the left. The Dexter song is gone, and the app automatically adds another song to the playlist.
I find myself suddenly in the mood to listen to “Rolling In The Deep” by Adele, though. I don’t question these things, so I hit the little Plus button on my iPhone and search for the song in my music library. With a tap, it’s added to my playlist. I want to listen to it right away though, so I swipe the song title to the right. The app crossfades “Come Together” and “Rolling In The Deep” so the track change isn’t jarring at all, and I’m listening to Adele.
This is awesome.
The Interface Details
I’ll be honest with you: Party Monster looks a little plain. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, because the interface is pretty straightforward, but there’s not a lot of glitz. That being said, it’s highly functional and easy to use. There’s an ethereal feeling to swiping your songs to play them or remove them that’s a little addictive.
And the point of the interface is that it’s addictive. I throw the occasional party, and I have people over. Throwing this up from my iPhone to my Apple TV is great, and letting people pick what they want to listen to is awesome. But this is addictive even for personal use. It’s great for the gym if you happen to bring your iPhone there.
There are little touches that make me really like using it. The lock screen becomes more functional, revealing the next few songs that are coming up. You can’t change the playlist up from the lock screen, but it’s nice to know what’s coming. Pausing the track also slowly fades it out. It’s a lot less of a jarring musical experience.
And that’s definitely a part of the interface: how you hear the music is equivalent to how you interact with it. Playing around with the app is a completely different experience than using the stock Music app. It might be simpler and it might not be as chrome-filled as the regular Music app, but in some ways, it can be a better listening experience.
Getting More Specific
I will say that you can tell this was designed with the iPad in mind. The interface breathes a lot better. On the iPad, your music library is much more visible and it becomes a lot easier to choose what you want to hear next.
The iPhone setup, of course, feels a little more personal. It’s still easy enough to use, but the iPad was meant to be shared at a party. The iPhone feels like it’s been set up to be used at the gym.
The Settings in the app let you adjust a few things, like the crossfade in between songs or the skip, which is great. But there’s also a cheeky little setting to ensure Nickelback is never played. I love that. Even if you like Nickelback, it still adds a personal (and hilarious) touch to the app. It feels like it was designed and coded by real people. And it was: the app is built entirely on open-source code. It’s a huge accomplishment.
What It’s Missing
Here’s what I will say: I wish I could use this as my main music player, but I can’t. The problem is that I can’t un-shuffle music. If I want to listen to the new record from The National (which is awesome, by the way), I can’t choose to listen to the entire thing in the proper track order because songs are organized alphabetically instead of by track order. It’s a pet peeve that won’t affect everybody, but I’m noting it regardless because I know some people will be disappointed.
My Final Thoughts
People love swiping on touch screens, and this app is a great excuse to swipe your music. Party Monster is everything its title implies, and it really sings with Airplay Speakers. It can’t replace the Music app, but if you need an easy way to handle a playlist at a party, Party Monster is far and away the best way to go.