I’ve been messing about with this new app, called Listen, on my iPhone 5 for a little while, after the developer hit me up on Twitter about it. Now, I’m not able to jump on on every app, Mac or iOS, that someone asks me to look at, but I gave this one a look-see. Turns out, it’s a pretty neat little app, which does exactly what its name says it does.
Launching the app shows a basic circle with album art in the middle of it, and it says, “Tap to Listen.” Tap the circle, and the song that’s currently selected in your iTunes library will start to play. A white line will fill in around the circle, indicating where in the song you are. Tap again, and it stops playing.
Simple, right? Pretty perfect for a car trip, actually, when you just want to start the music playing, and not worry too much about the specific track.
There are a few more options, though, all of them accessed through simple gestures. Tap on the circle, then hold and drag, and the more advanced interface appears. There’s a volume up button at the top center, a volume down button in the bottom center, and then a forward double arrow on the right and a reverse double arrow pointing on the left. These will skip to the next track in your music library. To access these buttons, drag the little circle you tapped and held over to them and voilá, they’ll activate. All in all, the ability to drag the song around to invoke these extra features is fluidly animated, and it makes intuitive sense.
There’s also a Share button in the upper right, which will give you options to share your track, along with a bit of an advertisement for the Listen app, to Twitter, Facebook, E-Mail, or in a Message. There’s a screen auto-lock toggle button in the lower left, though I couldn’t quite figure out what it did, as the screen didn’t lock itself or anything.
Tap the Home button on your iPhone, and the music will continue playing, just like the Music app. There’s currently no way to select individual tracks or playlists, as this app is mainly for just straight listening. This is my biggest gripe, really, as any music app these days should have some way, even if it’s stowed away somewhere in the user interface, to choose playlists or individual songs. Listen feels a little less than finished, here.
UPDATE: As MigClado points out in the comments below, there is indeed a way to grab individual songs, by pinching out from the center of the app. There’s no way to figure this out, that I can see, so it remains a missed opportunity in the interface design – users should be able to either figure out how things work, or they need to be explicitly told.
However, for an easy, gesture-based app to simply play your music, Listen might be a something to check out, especially since it’s on sale for a limited time at $0.99. The normal price is $1.99, which isn’t too much of a bank-breaker, either. It’s compatible with the iPhone 3GS and up, and works without letter-boxing on the iPhone 5.
Source: iTunes App Store.