Developer: Mike Clay
Platform: iPhone & iPad
Most people with any sense will agree that iTunes had to die, but not everyone is perfectly catered for by the all-in-one Apple Music app. It’s not perfectly suited to dealing with a vast digital library of music on your iPhone.
SongOwl aims to provide a solution. It’s not so much a bold stand-alone music player app as it is a custom skin for Apple Music, pulling in your existing track info and playlists. Play a track in SongOwl, and you’ll find that it’s also playing in Apple Music, and you can opt to include tracks saved in the Apple Music cloud as well as locally.
The basic look and layout of the app is evidently designed to provide minimal friction for those coming across from Apple’s service, too. The fonts, the colours, the widgets – all are comfortingly familiar, if not quite identical.
Where SongOwl adds value is in its custom Paths function. Essentially, you can set up multiple ways to view and arrange your stored tracks.
Tap on the top right icon and select New Path, and you’ll be able to group songs according to album, artist, composer, or genre. You can then sort that list alphabetically, by year, by the date added, tracks that you love, and so on. Those saved Paths will then be stored in a pull-out menu, ready to be swiped into view with two fingers.
Yes, the whole Paths thing boils down to a pretty basic series of parameters. But it gives you way more flexibility in how you sift through your music library than Apple Music allows for.
Another useful provision is a dedicated Favorites tab along the bottom, so you can instantly access your loved songs. Agains, it’s a small touch that will have sizeable significance for certain users.
While we’ve mentioned that developer Mike Clay has gone with a similar look to Apple Music by default, there is a little scope for customization. Head into the Settings menu and you’ll be able to access different Themes from three base presets, or head into Custom and create your own, though this only changes the color of the icons. It would have been nice to have more extensive theme options.
Within the main player, meanwhile, the theme changes according to the colour of the album art. That’s a small but thoughtful touch, which is a pretty apt description of how the app goes about its business in general. If you like the look and feel of Apple Music, but find it lacking when it comes to managing your music library, give SongOwl a shot.