By Eliot Van Buskirk of Evolver.fm.
The Hype Machine is great. It tracks music from the latest blogs so you can harvest what you will, into whatever you are calling your music collection these days — iTunes, web/YouTube bookmarks, Spotify playlists, your Rdio collection, or whatever.
The Brooklyn-based Hype Machine makes a fine front-end to 800 or so of the best, hype-iest, and most thought-provoking music blogs in the world. This is crowdsourcing (or, to detractors, dangerously-free groupthink) at its finest, which is why we were so excited when an iOS version of The Hype Machine appeared in May 2011.
For those keeping score, that means The Hype Machine is now available on: the web and Spotify Desktop (the original); Hype Machine (Mobile) ($4, redesigned, iOS); and third-party options for Android and Windows Phone. An Android version of the new iOS app is said to be in the works.
The new iOS version of Hype Machine, which concerns us today, is a free upgrade for existing Hype Machine iOS users — including those who originally installed it for free or those who bought the previous version for a buck. Everyone else will have to shell out four dollars in order to turn the world’s best music blogs into a music service.
If you’re a dedicated music fan looking for a new way to keep your finger on the pulse of What Is Happening Out There, that four bucks will be worth it — even though it’s 4x what the previous version cost.
“You can listen to the newest tracks posted just minutes ago, the most popular tracks of the day, and check out what your friends have discovered on the service,” reads the description. “Each week, we also hand-pick an album that you can stream in its entirety before you can buy it. All this, without ads or monthly fees.”
The new version, released on Wednesday, “has been rewritten from scratch internally, and with a brand new design,” The Hype Machine founder Anthony Volodkin tells Evolver.fm. Indeed, we found that the new version makes it even easier to A) find music blogs or track down ones you know, B) start keeping up to date on their music, and C) turn that into a kickass radio station, created by blogs all over the world, for you and you alone… although as with everything else these days, you can share what you find with friends.
One of the most crucial aspects for real music fans, as opposed to the fictional ones some apps are apparently designed for: Hype Machine plays only full tracks — no bogus short samples.
The new main screen looks a little bit Windows Phone 8-ish, with a popular artists pane that rotates through a number of artists; popular tracks; your feed; and the featured full-length album premiere:
if you click on Popular, you’ll get an easy, on-demand glimpse of what is up with music right now (note: sometimes, on the Hype Machine, older tracks suddenly become popular, so this isn’t just a list of random new releases — it represents enthusiasm about not only the new).
A new left pane lets you skip to any section quickly and painlessly. Remember, whatever you set up in the web version of The Hype Machine will show up here — yay for The Cloud:
Tapping the little “three lines” icon brings up the navigation bar; you can skip back to Now Playing at the bottom, which is nice. Also, note the Network Cache setting to the upper right. This shows how the app automatically stores what you’ve heard so you have something to listen to even without a cellular or WiFi data connection (planes, subways, limited data plans, etc.). You can clear that cache within the app to make more room for other stuff — neat!