iPhone New Apple Music app called SongOwl

CesiumDev

macrumors member
Original poster
Sep 26, 2014
52
11
I'm excited to introduce my new app SongOwl, a new alternative for managing and playing your Apple Music library.

SongOwl is different because it approaches navigation non-linearly.

This allows you to create your own reusable "paths" for exploring your music however you want. In SongOwl, every library view can be collected and sorted in over 100 different ways. As you set these settings, SongOwl will remember them in sequence. We're all used to [Artists/Alphabetically] > [Albums/Chronologically] > [Songs/Track#], but now you can make as many unique paths as you want. Even better, you can create paths based on specific collections (playlists, genres, etc). For instance, I have a playlist that I like to use [Album Artists/Most Recently Played] > [Songs/Play Count].

More Features:

  • Mark any collection as a "favorite" and access it instantly from the dedicated tab. Favorites are sorted in the order they were last accessed. Obsessing has never been so efficient.
  • The Favorites tab also conveniently collects all your Loved AM tracks in one place.
  • Play previews of tracks in the info pane without interrupting your playback queue.
  • Easily hide cloud and/or explicit content.
  • Now Playing pane with album artwork-inspired colors.
  • Choose or create your own theme colors.

Would love to answer any questions :)
 

CesiumDev

macrumors member
Original poster
Sep 26, 2014
52
11
Unfortuantely no. It's a limitation of the API that supports Apple Music DRM (and iCloud).
 
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neo_reloaded

macrumors newbie
Feb 10, 2020
1
0
I've used Cesium for quite awhile and am now mostly using SongOwl, I like it a lot. I have a large mp3 library and have gotten used to the occasional Cesium crash, but SongOwl seems much more stable. The sorting options are really divine - more intuitive than most desktop music library applications I've used, even.

A few questions:

- Any particular reason that Album Title is not present on the now playing screen? Seems like there's plenty of room. Not a big deal, but I like having the big 3 (artist/song/album) displayed.

- Any plans for compilation-specific grouping? The increased sorting flexibility makes some lookup easier, but the increased clutter of hundreds of one-off artists and such due to compilations makes a few use cases more cumbersome. I'd ideally make this a third top-level sort option. The two existing options (what to cluster by, and how to sort them) plus a compilation visible/hidden toggle. It'd be reaaaal nice to toggle compilations off for the all artist view, but then toggle them on within a specific artist to see that artist's contributions to compilations.

- Lyrics. This is the one area where I like Cesium better, having the lyrics viewable in the album art area with a simple touch. And then if the song changes, the lyrics go away. With SongOwl, it takes more clicks to get to the lyrics, and then that Info view stays on screen even if the song changes.

- What is the logic for choosing a color to match the album art? Mean, mode, random sampling? If I had to guess, I'd say mean with exclusion of extreme white and black colors. I reaaaally like this look when there is a nice color match, but I also get a lot of greys and browns, presumably from the averaging.

- How do you get the "night mode" with black as the base UI instead of white? I don't see that in the options anywhere, but some of the sample screens in the App store show that.

- What do the two right-most buttons at the top of the app do? You have play, shuffle, favorite, and then two buttons that seemingly have no effect (for any use-case I've tried them in, at least - I assume they do do something!).

Ok, that became more than a few questions. :) Thanks for a great app.
 
Last edited:

CesiumDev

macrumors member
Original poster
Sep 26, 2014
52
11
Thanks for giving it a try! 🙏 I can definitely provide some answers.

Any particular reason that Album Title is not present on the now playing screen?
Not reeaaaallly. Seems like albums become less relevant everyday, and this was cleaner. You're not the first who's asked, so it could possibly change in the future I suppose.

Any plans for compilation-specific grouping?
Ugh. Yes, I'd love to. Without getting too into the nitty gritty, I've learned (!) and tried to make SongOwl work as hand-in-glove with the mediaplayer API as possible. What works (and in included now) works great, but compilations and to a lesser extent user groupings are the thorns in my side because they can't be implemented within the "clean" current setup. TBH I expected this to be a bigger issue than it's been so far, but yes, it's definitely on the RADAR. Not implemented yet, but have considered making the cloud/local and explicit toggles path-specific. If it ever went that way adding a compilation toggle like that would be feasible.

What is the logic for choosing a color to match the album art?
I had a little help with pulling colors from the artwork image, but this is something I've been tinkering with for a long time. the alogrithm tries to fill three slots: a dark, light and mid-tone color (with specific thresholds for each per light/dark mode). More saturated colors are preferred if multiple options are present for each slot. If it can't fill the dark or light color but it does have a mid-tone then it will lighten/darken that color as a replacement. The issue that you are describing is that it's definitely a balance between accuracy and time, because it's a heavy process and quite slow. Part of optimizing for that is shrinking the artwork image way down, so there are fewer pixels to analyze. I'm sure that's where you are seeing the averaging. Certainly art with larger blocks of similar color fare best. Thanks for the feedback! I can definitely futz with the tuning, and probably will be forever.

How do you get the "night mode" with black as the base UI instead of white?
System dark mode setting.

What do the two right-most buttons at the top of the app do?
LOL, you're not alone! Even though these are the same icons as the stock app, they seem to be confusing a lot of people. Play Next and Play Later! I'll have to change the icons.
 

Greaney

macrumors newbie
Feb 11, 2020
1
0
I'm very happy with SongOwl. Just one question. How do I add a song to an existing list?
When I Press-Hold a song, then select "Add to Playlist" the only option I get is "New Playlist +"

Thanks.