Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Simplify Music (simplifymedia)



Simplify 2.0 was recently released. It's $3 right now.
http://www.simplifymedia.com/

I already have orb live but there were some annoying things about that app. For $3 I decided to give this a try. Interesting that 2.0 is a separate app so for those that have the original you will still need to cough up $3 for this new version if you decide to upgrade. They will continue to support v1.x though.

I have to say simplify is much more polished and slick than orb though a bit more limited in scope (music only) though it was what I was primarily using orb for anyways. The server software seems to behave much better too. Memory footprint was a bit bigger (50MB) but cpu utilization while streaming is only 1%. Setup was stupid simple. I just added the folder I wanted it to monitor for changes and share. Also, it seems simplify handles very large libraries better than orb.

On the iphone side the new search feature and on the fly playlist creation (favorites) are really nice features. One thing I wish it let you do was clear you favorites. If I add a few albums to favorites and have a few hundred songs in there, you have to remove each one individually. That's pretty nuts.

Over 3G quality wise I would say it's pretty good. There is no quality slider unfortunately like in orb. I would say orb with the slider in the middle of 3g still sounds a bit better. Simplify sounds closer to the lower quarter of the 3G section of the scale. Still, it's quite acceptable for what it is.

Buffering is much quicker. It seems very stable so far. I love the album art (must be embedded in the tag), artist bio (from last.fm), and lyric (lyricwiki.org) streaming support. Being able to seek with the scrub bar is nice too and responds surprisingly quick over 3g. Another nice touch is simplify remembers your last navigation point when you restart the app unlike orb which dumped you back at the main menu every time you started the app. Still no resume or bookmarking within a track (so you would never use this for say podcasts or audio books) but it's a step in the right direction.

Interesting how it looks like the simplify iphone app caches most of the catalog data locally vs how orb almost feels like a front end app to their web interface (which I'm guessing is kind of how it works). Orb live has to contact the servers with every navigation. Simplify does some initial caching/syncing and then it seems all navigation is local data at that point.

One thing I really miss that orb has is navigation by folders. The other disadvantage is that simplify is very closely tied to the iphone. There isn't an alternative interface like web and mobile web based interfaces orb has that works quite well with windows mobile phones.

Highly recommended. I would say it was well worth the $3.

UPDATE: 5/12/09
- Simplify Music 2.0.2 is out for the iPhone. It adds Compilation support which is really nice in helping clean up browsing by artist. To flag a file as part of a compilation added this extended id3 tag: ITUNESCOMPILATION with a value of 1.
I use MP3Tag.

UPDATE: 7/20/09
- Another update was released, and it has a killer new feature. Now if you quit the app in the middle of a song, when you start simplify again it will prompt you to resume. It resumes not only from your last track but the exact position in the track!

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