Thumbplay Review (iPhone App)

ThumbPlay music is a streaming app for the iPhone, one of the first to be available in the US. This app is free to download and can be tethered to your ThumbPlay account online. This will provide you with unlimited streaming for $9.99 a month. A fair price I’m sure, but seeing as how Pandora is free, or $36 dollars a year, I’m not sure it’s a bargain. It does depend on what you want though. ThumbPlay is like having instant access to a huge library and having the ability to make custom playlists for yourself. However, it doesn’t have anything to match Pandora for its ability to bring you new music that you might like. Or anything like a “Random” button.

The app does what it says. You get the app for free, and if you sign up for a new account today, you get three days to try it out. I tried it for the full three days and found it was nice to be able to pull down whatever I could think of from the internet. I threw everything I had at it. Old pop songs, obscure bands, and even a comedian or two. It had a fair selection of things I looked for. I concluded after looking around for a little while that you probably will find whatever it is you’re looking for most of the time, though maybe not in the exact form you wanted. For instance, I was looking for “Champagne Supernova” by Oasis, and all that I could find was the live recording. Which was an awful affront to my ears. I looked for some old David Bowie songs, and found what I was looking for. I even found something as obscure as The Beta Band. However, in the end it didn’t have all that I looked for, much like iTunes sometimes. In general the App had a decent library, did what they advertise, and it wasn’t that ugly. I think there is room for improvement in terms of design for the UI, but overall not too shabby.

The App works in a similar manner to the native iPod app for the iPhone. Along the bottom are a few tabs; Playlists, Faves, Featured, search, and sign in. Each tab does more or less what you expect. When searching for music you can choose to navigate through the app using cover flow, only for albums, or through the list view. Coverflow is on top, of the list view, and to use the list, just scroll with your finger. You can play whole album or you can just choose selected tracks to add to a playlist. There is one little complaint I have about the UI. At one point you will come to a screen where it says, “PLAY ALL” on a button and then a dialog next to it that reads “long press for more options” or something to that extent. This confused me for a moment. I tried long pressing the PLAY button as one would imagine it is suggesting that you do, seeing as how the dialog is right next to this big blue button. However, it means to do this on any given track. This comes in handy for doing things such as adding things to a playlist or faves, but a little more direct language would have been helpful. Once the music is playing, the player looks very much like the native iPod app, however, there are some key differences. There is no coverflow at this stage, so turning your iDevice sideways does nothing. Also, there is no fast forward or rewind. Just skip back and forth. You can click on the button in the top right to get a track list for this Album, but you could also hit the back button in the top left to do the same at times. You can arrange the songs in your playlist, though there is no random button for them. So it’s more like a traditional mixtape than it is a new gen playlist. It also lacks the ability to scrub back and forth through a track.

Finding new music with this App isn’t ideal. You can find some of what’s hot or new, but not really a good in depth exploration into uncharted territory. It seems to be something that was added in as an after thought. There is not much else to be said about this.

As for reasons why your life will be benefited by being ten dollars more poor at the end of the month, there are some. You won’t have to carry your whole music library around on your iPhone. You could just sit down and make a 3000 or so song track list with all the music your heart desires. That is if you don’t go mad first in the attempt. Once this is done, you’d be able to stream music to your iPhone over both wi-fi and 3G. You also can find a new album and listen to the whole thing before you decide to buy it from some reputable dealer of music. You can also suggest songs, or albums to friends. In the long run I see some good reasons to spend or save the money.

The axe falls right in the middle on this one. Five out of ten points awarded for all the reasons you might want to shell out ten bucks a month and five lay against for all the reasons you could talk yourself into a large pizza from John daddy’s pizza place. So there you have it. The choice is yours. As for me, I’m hungry for pizza, anyone else?

App rated on a ten point system.

Thumbplay review
By Jesse Hayges

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