Thursday, 11 July 2013

#nwplyng app review




In the present age of check-ins, we live an online existence. With mobile devices that are 'connected' all the time, we check-in into places, movies, books, TV Shows and also music. The idea is to share your activity and discover what your friends and the people around the world are indulging in.

#nwplyng, an app for Android and iOS is a recent addition to this category of applications and services. We spent some time with the application and here is our review of the same.




The concept
The concept of the application is pretty simple and involves around share what music you are listening to. You share this with a community, much like how GetGlue does for TV, movies and sports. This sharing is powered by social media and the entire experience is gamified. Curious? Read on to know more.

Getting started
As you start the app, it lets you login only through your social accounts on Facebook, Twitter or Foursquare. Once that is done, the sharing marathon begins. You have a feed much like most social networks work. Follow people and discover music. Listen to music and share it with the world.

Press the hashtag on the top right to begin sharing. A list of the top 10 shares pops up. You can either share one of those or click on the search button and search for a song. If you are listening to a song already, press on the mic and the application will recognize the song automatically. This song recognition API works similar to popular apps such as Soundhound and Shazam.

Once you have selected the song you wish to share, the app links the YouTube video for the song and lets you add a description. You can also add an image or location to the check-in. You choose whether you wish to share it on your Twitter/ Facebook/ Foursquare accounts and then click on share. As you share, your activity appears on your respective social media and #nwplyng account.




The interface
The major highlight about the app is the interface. It's slick, neat and pretty intuitive. Another positive point is the fact that unlike many other popular apps, it looks and works exactly the same on both Android and iOS. The developers have thus brought in uniformity on the platform. Check-ins appear in a card like interface with an option of liking or commenting. There is no lag and the transition between different features is smooth.

Song recognition
The song recognition on the application works rather well. We tried a mix of 30 English and Hindi tracks and the app was able to recognize 27 out of the lot. The 3 misses included old Mohammad Rafi numbers and a track by Akon. One impressive bit was the apt recognition of instrumental tracks as well. However, in noisy environments, the recognition can be a bit of a hit and miss.

A gamified experience
Much like how one earns point and medals in a game, your journey on #nwplyng is filled with records and levels. As you share music, you move up the ladder of levels along with making records and earning badges for the same. One record could be for your first share, while the other could be for sharing multiple songs of the same artist or album. It's like a game and the passage to victory is greater activity on the platform! The entire idea of gamification is what actually makes #nwplyng different from the rest of the herd of social check-in applications.



Social Media integration
We did mention the fact that the app works heavily on social media integration. If you decide to post a check-in on Twitter, the tweet appears with a #nwplyng hashtag. You can search the hashtag and discover what everyone is listening. As far as Facebook is concerned, the check-in is posted on your timeline through the #nwplyng Facebook app. Depending upon what you want, you can place a #nwplyng section on your Facebook timeline. The app also lets you find friends from your social networks and follow them on #nwplyng.

A Foursquare for Music?
Check-in applications have been a common phenomenon and Foursquare happens to be the most popular on that front. The #nwplyng app draws parallels from location based check-in app on various grounds. A significant similarity is the badges on Foursquare that take the form of records on #nwplyng. Another commonality between the two is the feature that lets you either favourite/ like or comment on a 'check-in'.

The hits
The hit for the app is the interface and the idea. It will be a popular platform for music lovers that are passionate about sharing and discovering music alike.

The social media sign in is quick and an account is easy to setup. A quick search on Twitter for #nwplyng will let you discover interesting music that people are listening to.

The gamification of the idea is just an added incentive to stick to the community. Interesting graphics, witty descriptions and titles/ records/ levels are positives as well. For example, the 'Air-Guitarist' level comes with the description "Don't lose hope. Even Hendrix started off air guitaring". Humour is always a plus!

The misses
The major miss is the limited idea of discovery. A way to know what artist, song or album is trending in the community might be a better way to discover content.

The YouTube linking does not always work as expected. During our usage, a Teri Ore from Singh is King got mixed up with a Saathiya from Singham. Also, the absence of an original track on YouTube will certainly mean the inability to share the song.

As what seems to be an inspiration from Foursquare, the app can actually add other significant features from Foursquare such as the idea of lists. Having a feature to create lists of tracks you would like to explore might come in handy.

Lastly, though social sign in is undoubtedly a smooth process, giving the user an option to create an account without linking it to a Facebook, Twitter or Foursquare account should also be there for those who prefer to remain private.

Verdict
All in all, if you are music lover and are looking for ways to discover new music, do check out #nwplyng for Android and iOS.