By Eliot Van Buskirk of Evolver.fm.
About a week ago, we broke some news about an intriguing new app for iOS and Android called SoundWave that does something no other app has succeeded in doing, with Apple’s approval anyway: It can tell what you’re listening to in Apple’s Music app, and then share that activity with other people.The upshot of this system, which can also track what you’re listening to in Rdio and Spotify, is basically an evolved version of scrobbling (see Last.fm and Facebook) that focuses on mobile. In a welcome break from the silo-ization of music, it works across iOS/Android and across iTunes/Rdio/Spotify.
Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak loves SoundWave (free on iOS or Android) because he can share what he’s listening to without altering his listening habits, and he’s not the only heavyhitter who believes in SoundWave; Mark Cuban is an investor.
We have written extensively (and exclusively) about why Woz likes SoundWave, and we even uncovered some of how it works, so we won’t get into that again here.
Instead, we’ll focus just on the hands-on stuff, now that the beta we’d been playing around with has appeared in the Android and iTunes stores. Apple featured the app today, which isn’t too surprising considering that senior VP Eddie Cue was impressed enough to alert the US and UK iTunes staff to the app’s existence, as we reported earlier.
In our hands-on testing, everything worked just about perfectly. We were able to see our friends, see what they were listening to in the
Feed: As advertised, you can follow what any other user is listening to in SoundWave — even “Woz” himself (user name: “Woz Woz.”) Steve Wozniak’s most recent play was “You’re Beautiful (Acoustic) by James Blunt. His most-played song is “Superman (It’s Not Easy)” by Five For Fighting. See, it’s easy.
The feed updates rather quickly; you’ll see whatever you’re listening to appear in your feed not long after playing it — and while the Music app songs must be played back on your device to be shared, SoundWave (for iOS) sees your Rdio and Spotify activity through Facebook, so it’ll show up in. To give yourself some privacy, you can activate a 60min “guilty pleasure”mode. Unlike the similar feature in Spotify and other apps, this one toggles back to public sharing after an hour.
Discovery: Here, we found one of the only issues with this app: Because it scrobbles from people’s activity in Apple’s Music app, Rdio, and Spotify, but then full-track playback via SoundCloud and YouTube, SoundWave occasionally plays the wrong song, or fails to play a song due to, say, the content owner not allowing the YouTube video to be embedded elsewhere. It would be nice if the tracks would play back in Rdio and Spotify (and if the right track always played).
Maps: You can draw a little circle and listen to everything within it. Neat! It worked every time.
Filters: Taking a play — or actually, just terminology — from Instagram’s playbook, SoundWave lets you tweak what appears in your feed to your liking with a Filter. By default, your feed lets you know when someone you follow plays, rates, likes, or shares a song. You can turn any of those off.
Explore: This is the first day SoundWave has been public, so the charts aren’t representative of how this thing will turn out, but still, it’s interesting to note that among the early user base, the Justin Biebers and One Directions of the world are getting downvoted, while Daft Punk, Bastille, and Icona Pop have the most Likes.