Hands-on: Twitter Music for iOS review

It came as no surprise when Twitter on Thursday launched Twitter Music, an app for iOS that helps users find what music their friends are listening to based on social recommendations. It’s an interesting concept by the folks at Twitter, who just released Vine, a network that allows users to share six-second video. Unlike Vine, Twitter Music is full of plenty of Twitter branding and, even better, plenty of integration.

Twitter Music is broken into four main sections:  "Suggested", "#NowPlaying", "Popular" and "Emerging" all intertwined in the beautiful user interface that Twitter has included. When first launching Twitter Music, you’re asked to sign-in with your Spotify or RDIO account, so music you listen to through the app can be streamed at no cost. If you don’t have access to either service, Twitter will provide previews through Apple’s iTunes.

The Popular section of Twitter Music takes the songs Twitter users are listening to across the network and ranks them in a numbered list going left to right. Psy’s “Gentle Man” is leading at the time of this review. Songs are connected to the artists’ Twitter account, as one would expect.

When clicking on a song (looks like a tile) you have the option to play it, go to the artist’s profile page, or quickly follow the artist on Twitter. When following there’s no dialogue box open, it is simply done at a click. When playing a song through Twitter Music, it automatically taps your desired service, be it Spotify or RDIO, and will play the song. It’s worth noting, you must have a premium subscription to either/or.

The Emerging section shows the “hidden talents” of Twitter and, quite honestly, we’ve never heard of any of these music groups, but that’s the beauty of it.  Suggested shows the artists you might like, presumably recommended to you by who you follow and what you tweet on the social network. Both have the same features as the Popular section: you can play a song, go to an artist’s page, or share it with your Twitter followers.

The section we’re most fond of is the #NowPlaying. It takes what your friends have been sharing on Twitter and throws it into one mega-list. There’s no numbering system here, it simply shows the songs that have been “tweet(ed) by the people you follow”. An icon of the person who has shared it is shown on the song’s tile, so you can either thank them or berate them.

Songs can be controlled by the play menu at the bottom. You can set the volume, play and pause, swipe between songs, stream the music elsewhere via Apple’s AirPlay, or tweet the song.

Those are the four main sections of the app, that can be swiped between by going left and right. Furthermore, swiping all the way to the right will bring you to your own profile, which shows your Twitter information such as tweets, following, and followers. The artists you follow are listed on the page as well. There’s no keeping track of what you’ve been listening to - it’s actually pretty basic. There’s no timeline in the traditional Twitter sense.

The last of the features is the search functionality, which lets you search any Twitter user. You’re presented with their Twitter Music profile, presenting basic Twitter information and the artists they follow, again, pretty basic. If it is an artist you can press the play button that will pull in tracks from the music service you selected earlier.

Twitter also has a web version available for Twitter Music that works similar to the iOS experience. There’s a menu in the top-left corner that offers access to the Suggested, #NowPlaying, popular, and Emerging sections, along with access to your profile page. The web and iOS versions are both the same interfaces.

The first version of the app is a little buggy in some instances giving us force closes, but we expect that to be fixed quickly. Overall, Twitter has a solid product here: it’s beautiful, works well and serves a clear purpose. The audiophiles of Twitter will cling to this, but it only works to its full capacity if you’re signed up for either RDIO and Spotify. Twitter promises it is working to add more services.

Like Vine, Twitter has provided no word on an Android app, leaving those who prefer Google’s ecosystem in the dark. Will this kill radio services like Pandora or Slacker? Probably not, but it does cater really well to those who have the same taste in music as their friends. If you don’t, you’ll find some really weird new tunes.