I couldn't stand Music.app. So I made my own. Please, check it out!

Discussion in 'iOS Apps' started by CesiumDev, Nov 22, 2014.

  1. CesiumDev macrumors member

    Sep 26, 2014
    If you are like me, iOS7/8 seriously broke your music listening habits. Scrolling through huge artist lists with hundreds of songs, weird/incorrect/missing artist images that were sourced from who knows where, huge album art so only a handful of albums were visible at a time. I spent a lot of time looking for a 3d party solution. I didn't want gimmicks and overwrought interfaces, just a simple iOS7/8 consistent design that restored iOS6 functionality, plus a couple of features that were missing. I couldn't find something I liked, so I decided to teach myself objective-C and develop my own.

    The result is Cesium, and it just went live in the App Store. It's a lightweight music player that makes music navigation simple and intuitive.
    Additional features:
    • Utilizes existing device/itunes music library.
    • Restores nested browsing. Focus in on your music collection with laser precision.
    • Artist view. No more scrolling through Artist views with hundreds of songs. Sort albums by title or chronologically (ascending or descending).
    • Tag responsive. Cesium dynamically adjusts presentation based on available track tags, including Sort fields.
    • Classical Mode. When enabled, all music tagged as "Classical" in genres will use the Composer field instead of Artist/Album Artist.
    • iCloud support. Toggle visibility of iTunes Match and/or purchased tracks.
    • On-demand scrolling of long song titles, album or artist names, etc. Simply tap and hold.
    • Gesture controls. Enable to safely control playback while driving.
    • Seamless iOS7/8 design.
    • Native display support for iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.
    Cesium on the App Store

    Thanks for taking the time to check it out!
  2. benrd macrumors member

    Jan 11, 2008
    looks good mate!
    does it have a landscape mode?
    the ios8 stock one is driving me insane!
  3. CesiumDev thread starter macrumors member

    Sep 26, 2014
    Currently Cesium does not support landscape mode, but the request has come up several times, and it is marked down on my list for future release.
  4. IrishVixen macrumors 68020


    Jun 20, 2010
    THANK YOU for adding gesture controls!!!! I cannot believe that with all the gestures Apple has implemented in the last few years, they couldn't be bothered to add the insanely useful swipe forward/back to switch songs. That's been one of the biggest reasons I jailbreak; that function has been just too hard to live without once you're used to it.

    Downloaded tonight to try it out. Would love to see a few more colors available (though Cesium Blue is quite elegant), and hoping the dark theme previewed elsewhere has other color options as well--black and orange is a bit too Halloween for my tastes. ;) As for landscape mode, when you do implement it, please consider adding a toggle to disable that function. Many people don't like it, myself included.

    Will there eventually be a way to create playlists, or edit existing ones? That's one thing I do pretty frequently directly from the phone.
  5. Jessica Lares macrumors G3

    Jessica Lares

    Oct 31, 2009
    Near Dallas, Texas, USA
    I thought at one point the music app DID have those gestures... Only recently did I try and use them. :eek:

    Thank you for this app!
  6. CesiumDev thread starter macrumors member

    Sep 26, 2014
    Thank you for giving Cesium a try! I hope it continues to serve you well.

    To answer your comments; yes, more themes will probably trickle out in future updates. It just seemed logical at this point to stay within the iOS palette. Ideally, I'd like to include a feature that allows users to create and set a custom colour, but I haven't figured out the best way to do that yet. I could easily allow users to enter a hex code from some colour editor site and use that, but it's pretty clunky from a UX standpoint.

    Night Mode should be released any day! Just waiting on Apple's approval. It is fully compatible with the themes, so the orange can be set to any of the 5 (plus more, whenever) colours :)

    Landscape mode will likely happen, but in a later update. I am working on getting 1.3 out before the holiday rush. I'm quite happy with it, so I'll probably take a break over the holidays, focus on other projects, and just settle in to a few 1.3.x updates to fix any bugs that come up. When landscape comes, it will definitely be togglable.

    Playlists are a sticky wicket. Apple does not allow devs direct access to the music library, so I can't create playlists natively the way music.app does. Any playlists created would live and be accessibly solely through Cesium. That (and an up next) feature are on the list, but will definitely be in a more significant update.

    Again thank you! I hope you enjoy Cesium :)


    You are welcome!
  7. IrishVixen, Dec 1, 2014
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2014

    IrishVixen macrumors 68020


    Jun 20, 2010
    I know the feeling. I'm forever annoyed when I try to change songs from my husband's stock phone. "Seriously, how do you function with this crippled OS?!" :D

    Probably best to stick with limited colors for now...I totally understand that. I'm very glad to have at least some choice though. I vote for the purple from the Podcasts app, though, and I look forward to seeing Night Mode soon!

    I was afraid of that. Still, I know a lot of people never use this function from their phones at all, but rather create & manage all their playlists from iTunes on the computer and sync it over. It's not going to be a dealbreaker for most people, I bet.

    The app is visually a huge improvement over stock--proving a basically flat UI can be well implemented, unlike Apple's rendition--and so far functions very well. I'll certainly recommend it to others.

    Edit: Knew I was forgetting something...displaying lyrics? Or is that also locked down by Apple?
  8. CesiumDev thread starter macrumors member

    Sep 26, 2014
    Welp, changed my mind and included custom colours (via hex) in v1.3, which I'm shooting to have out for Christmas, so you have that to look forward to! 16.7 million more themes.

    Thanks for the kind words! And thank you for spreading the word. I'll be knocking the price down to $0.99 for the holidays – Dec 21-Jan 1.

    As far as lyrics: yes, potentially. I have access, I don't think it's a terribly difficult thing to do. However my goal was to create a lightweight, minimalist app, and not get bogged down in features. It is already kind of feeling bulky to me... Long way of saying, I need to figure out a clean intuitive way to build it in. Haven't done that yet, but I have a good idea.

    Based on your usage patterns, do lyrics need to be accessible directly from/in the Now Playing screen, or would navigating to a view be reasonable?
  9. RobbyIdol macrumors regular

    Mar 20, 2012
    First, congrats on releasing the app! I've been looking forward to this and have purchased for $1.99 today. First impressions:

    - Nice blend of iOS 6 with 7/8, particularly in Artist view (those random, oversized Artist images in the native app were awful)
    - I like the user customization options for color theme, eventual dark mode, and classical mode is really cool!
    - Overall, great job! Shows so much potential and already it's the best 3rd party music app on the market.

    Some requests:

    - Volume slider in music playback screen. Right now I have to use the side volume up/down buttons to adjust loudness level while listening to music. Would like a simple, well-placed slider as in the native app.

    - "Back" button at top left (bottom center is neat too, but my fingers keep reaching for top left from years of native app usage! :p )

    - User edit of bottom menu icon order. Currently, the L to R order is Artist, Albums, Songs, Playlists, and Genres. Would like to reshuffle from L to R to read Playlists, Artists, Songs, Genres, Albums. Just personal preference :)

    - Audiobook support?

    - Create new playlist and edit current playlists within Cesium?

    - Somewhat laggy when changing menus/screens, but I'm also on 7.1.2 on a 4S. Not sure if that's my problem. It's not terribly choppy, but some smoothing out would be nice down the road.

    - Last: Background grayscale color, a la iOS6, instead of bright iOS7 white? I don't expect the app to resemble the iOS6 music app completely, but the original grayscale background was always much easier on the eyes (although breaks the iOS 7/8 design scheme a bit).

    Awesome work, worth the purchase, and will keep an eye on updates!
  10. CesiumDev thread starter macrumors member

    Sep 26, 2014
    Thank you for you interest and purchase of Cesium! Very happy to hear that so far it has been a pleasant experience. I'm really excited for v1.3 to be released, as I think it ratchets up the user experience a couple notches.

    In response to your comments:
    - Volume slider: This, in addition to some other requests (lyrics, quick album access from Now Playing, etc) is on the radar, I just have to figure out how to do it without sacrificing the minimalist aesthetic. Somehow it already feels like Cesium is at the tipping point from minimalist player to full-feature, and I am not even sure how I feel about it! I think I have a solution that might work, though, so stay tuned for a major v2.0 release (no timetable yet). Couple other thoughts for you, though, based on my own usage. Do you find yourself riding the volume that much? I'd look into Sound Check, which might help. If you aren't aware, it is an iTunes feature that helps to normalize volume. You'll have to enable in iTunes so that it can analyze your library. Cesium respects these values, however the setting to enable is found in the Music settings. Only catch is that Sound Check acts on individual tracks only, so the volume can fluctuate weirdly when listening to an album. I use iVolume (available on the App Store), which has an improved analysis method and allows you to adjust albums holistically. I rarely find myself having to change volume during playback.

    - Back button: you may find it even easier to simply swipe down! This gesture will dismiss the Now Playing view. In v1.3 this trigger has been replaced with a proper interaction, so that you can "drag and slide" the view which feels more natural.

    - Looks like the built in API to support this may be a bit clunky, but I totally appreciate how interacting with this out of preferred order could be a frustration point. I'll look at how best to incorporate this customization.

    - Audiobook: No plans for it at the moment, but I won't rule it out, either.

    - Playlists: This one kind of sucks, because Apple does not permit devs access to the actual iTunes library. So I can't provide proper playlist creation or editing. The only playlist support I can include would mean that playlists would only exist within Cesium (and not be visible elsewhere, or transfer to iTunes...well maybe there could be an XML export...). That gets into programming that is honestly a bit more complex than where I am so far! Again, it's been requested several times, so it's on the list for a potential future release.

    - I'm sorry to hear you are experiencing choppy animations. This is my white whale, as some user report it, while others report smooth transitions. It's difficult for me to replicate (I have a 4s running pretty smooth right now, for instance). What I can say is that v1.2 includes some specific code to help smooth it out, and v1.3 has a few optimizations that I think should help as well. It's my top priority to solve, just flying a bit blind on this one.

    - a low-contrast setting is a great idea!

    Thanks again for checking out Cesium.
  11. RobbyIdol macrumors regular

    Mar 20, 2012
    A fair point. I don't often need to use the slider, but I do use it on occasion when interacting with the Now Playing screen. Certainly not a deal breaker, just seemed like a natural/easy function to have on the NP screen.

    Honestly, didn't realize I could do that -- tried it out, and it's a great feature! :)

    Thanks again for making this. I realize it's a side project for you, but I appreciate how seriously you're taking it. I'm one of the many iOS fans who felt abandoned when the native music app took such a hit with iOS7, and showed little to no improvement in 8. Cesium is clean, intuitive, and I appreciate all the little things like user customization and your responsiveness as a dev. Rock on!


    I second this! :)
  12. CesiumDev thread starter macrumors member

    Sep 26, 2014
    Hope you don't feel like I was being combative! Just trying to determine if you are one of the unlucky ones battling with pre and post volume-war music!

    Thanks for the kind words!
  13. RobbyIdol macrumors regular

    Mar 20, 2012
    Not at all! I just use my iPhone as a music device at work, and often adjust my volume based on outside factors for various reasons. If anything, I think it was an issue of "phantom swiping" when my thumb reached for a volume slider that wasn't there -- but in reality, doesn't necessary need to be there. :)
  14. nanogirl21 macrumors 6502a


    Sep 20, 2011
    Midwest United States

    I love the app, but it really doesn't work well in iOS 9. Any news about an update? It's a huge delay when clicking/touching items and often a song I didn't even click will play instead of the one that I did click.
  15. CesiumDev thread starter macrumors member

    Sep 26, 2014
    Not good! I haven't had any issue on my iOS9 test device, or any other reports of issues on 9 specifically. Version 3.2 is already submitted for review, but I don't think there are any changes likely to resolve what you are describing. Here's a couple things to try/follow up questions:
    • Are you sure your version of Cs is up to date? Version 3.0.3 and below have a known bug in iOS8.4+ that is some instances instead of the song you want to play, the first track in the list plays instead.
    • I had a user on Twitter recently describe some strange behaviour (including wrong song playing) that was caused by disabling use of cellular data for Cs. When he turned cellular data back on, it started working fine again. I must admit I'm baffled as to why this is the case, but it might be the same for you...? I'm looking into it.
    • Is Music.app working properly? I've experienced iTunes library corruption during iOS updates. Running, playing a song and/or quitting/restarting Music.app may resolve it, or doing a clean sync from your computer or the cloud.
    Let me know if any of the above helps, and we'll try something else if needed. If you'd like to join the beta you can PM me your email and I'll get you on the latest build.

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