Rediscover Your (Digital) Albums

Saturday, January 21, 2006 | 3:41 pm

I am in love with an application.

A simple and beautifully executed application.

If you have a Mac (the home of beautiful applications) and you listen to music via iTunes (I stream to the home stereo), then try Coverflow. This app is designed for one reason only, that is to return the feeling of 'browsing' to your digital albums.

I have found that I rely on shuffle and my playlists for a lot of my iTunes listening. Things get very random (20 minutes of techno followed by The Beatles "Old Brown Shoe"), or very stale. The reason my habits have developed this way seems to be due the difficulty of browsing albums by text list. It's just not as inspiring as flicking through a CD collection to see what takes your fancy in that particular moment.

Like all good apps, it does the heavy lifting for you. Open, and it'll start trying to find the cover art for each album in your library. It grabs it from your song files (if you download album art for your songs), from your Synergy cover art collection, and even via Amazon searches. If it doesn't find the album (usually due to album names not matching Amazon's for example), you can always cut and paste it from anywhere you can find it later (use Camino, lets you cut straight to the clipboard from your browser window). If it can't find it, you get a blank grey album cover with the album & artist.

Once opened, you get this lovely, strangely alive representation of your collection. It flows past your parched eyes like a true collection. It organically bobs up and down while you flick through covers, almost like it was on water. It's hard to describe, check the website for a video of this effect. You can click album by album, scroll using a bar, or use an instant search field which filters the collection down by search field.

And then simply double-click an album cover to start playing it in iTunes. That's the bones of it. Brilliant. Haven't quit the application since I downloaded it 2 weeks ago. Check it out, it needs OS X 10.4 Tiger, but is is free for now, probably because it is still a work in progress. I have had no problems though.

My feature wish? That it could copy the album art you put in there back to Synergy, another lovely piece of shareware I have owned for a couple of years. Synergy is a great application for telling you song names when they start in a resixable trnaslucent window, controlling your iTunes from the menu bvar as well as using global hot-keys (invaluable), but it's cleverest design is that it keeps a folder of the all the album art it can find and shows it when a song plays, but so you don't take up room with the pictures embedded in your song files (like iTunes does, which takes up more iPod space also).

Check out Coverflow. It'll get you over your playlist-habit blues, and back to an album collection like it was 1983 again.


At 22/1/06 3:44 pm, Blogger thisismarcus said...

Sounds completely unnecessary and all the more fun for it. 1983 though? That's pre-compact disc! Does it add vinyl static sound effects to the playback?

At 24/1/06 1:29 am, Blogger Dave(id) said...

Interesting, used it at work today, snazzy little program, but I prefer sorting and scrolling up and down thru itunes Although I will use it to show off, looks/acts neat and that's worth the price tag.


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