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Vinyls – Apple Music goes crate digging

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Developer: Shihab Mehboob
Price: Free [$2/£2 per month Pro tier]
Size: 107.2 MB
Version: 2.3.2
Platform: iPhone & iPad


Apple Music does pretty much everything an iPhone-owning music fan could want, but its user interface isn’t to everyone’s taste. Vinyls offers a slightly more playful way to enjoy your music without completely jettisoning that tasteful Apple style.

It’s a music player that essentially sits on top of Apple Music, allowing you to browse and play from your existing library. The key twist is that your music is represented as a spinning vinyl – hence the name.

Paying for a subscription lets you use a more colorful background

You can even interact directly with said vinyl to scrub backward and forwards through a playing track. It’s not quite as direct an interaction as it initially seems, as dragging the record only seems to scrub in five-second-or-so increments, but it’s a nice touch nonetheless.

The app is free to download and use, which is welcome, but certain features are locked behind a subscription (or a $14.99 one-off payment). If you want to change to a vibrant background that reflects the colors of the album art, to give the record a shiny effect, or to display a border around the vinyl, you’ll need to upgrade.

The AR function is fun but flimsy

There’s also an AR feature locked behind this paywall, which lets you place the spinning record in the real world on your camera’s viewfinder. It’s pretty pointless, and will likely be forgotten about after an initial try. More problematic was the fact that this AR gimmick seemed to break the player UI for me, necessitating an app restart.

Elsewhere, you can add a vinyl crackle or even an artificial ‘scratch’ sound to tracks, or add a cobweb effect to records that haven’t been played for a while.

Vinyls pulls in your Apple Music subscription and/or library

In truth, all of these extra features are entirely superfluous, doing practically nothing to enhance the core music-playing experience. As such, the subscription options are better thought of as a nice optional way to reward the developer for their hard work.

It’s worth emphasising that Vinyls is very much a light reskin, and that Apple Music is doing all of the heavy lifting. Tapping the Dynamic Island widget when playing music in the background will jump you back into Apple’s music app rather than Vinyls, which rather neatly illustrates this fact.

The Music Recognition feature is a little confusing

The prominently featured ability to access your device’s in-built Shazam-powered Music Recognition capability seems like a somewhat confusing addition. It does work, but the way it’s built into the UI means that more often than not it simply tells you what you already have playing.

Vinyls is a nicely presented and pleasingly tactile player for Apple Music users, but it’s also inessential, failing to add any real lasting value to the in-built iPhone music experience. Except, perhaps, as a nice visual for those who keep their device unlocked and prominently displayed while listening.