In Depth: 6 iTunes alternatives reviewed and rated

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6 iTunes alternatives

Ever considering that iTunes was presented in 2001, Apple has actually remained to tinker with it, updating exactly how it works and exactly how you gain access to and play music.

iTunes 11 has actually presented some intriguing brand-new user interface parts, the best of which is the new album view. This introduces a grid of cds, and clicking one expands a track listing.

However, although this feels simple and classy, simpleness and elegance within iTunes are only skin-deep. The app stays a complicated, often unwieldy monster, mainly because it now has to deal with managing all type of media on your Mac, consisting of books, TELEVISION shows, films and apps.

At best, you can often hide the clutter, but iTunes is no more an app with a razor-sharp focus, and even accessing music can be performed in several different methods, which can cause confusion.

This group test, then, is all about finding out whether you can replace the iTunes application with something better for the single act of playing music. Preferably, we wished to discover apps that’d enable you to deal with your existing music, but that’d have more simple interfaces and fast search functions.

We likewise desired any possible replacement to have several methods of seeing the app (rather like the iTunes mini player) and be stable and trustworthy.

Of the six apps we chose, there’s an unexpected quantity of variation in terms of design. Although some have the tendency to appear like earlier variations of iTunes, others are more akin to iOS apps, and one oddly has the visual look of a real-life piece of hi-fi kit, complete with an enormous volume knob.

It’s testimony to the passion of developers that any such apps even exist – it can not be simple persuading people to attempt a competitor to among the best known and typically made use of pieces of software application on the Mac.

Still, that doesn’t suggest they get off gently in our testing– we are looking for the very best, and if absolutely nothing’s sufficient, we will have to stick with iTunes …

Apps on test

Album Flow 1.0
Ecoute 3.0.8
Enqueue 1.0.1
Fidelia 1.2.1
Sonora 2.0 (beta)
Swinsian 1.7.1

Test one: iTunes integration

How does it manage your existing music?

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All apps on test other than Album Flow and Ecoute can manage their own libraries of music, with Enqueue also supplying the methods to keep track of certain folders. Nevertheless, there was variation in the way each app dealt with existing iTunes content.

Ecoute and Fidelia get it right, straight accessing iTunes library files, the former also additionally enabling you to write metadata back to the library on stopped. Cd Flow seemingly likewise has the right concept, in working directly with iTunes, but, bizarrely, it requires iTunes to be introduced in order to access its music.

The continuing to be 3 all depend on an import function, and all had troubles. Swinsian fared best, pulling in playlists and cds, but it missed a great deal of cover art work. On the other hand, Enqueue and Sonora failed several times to import everything, frequently crashing while trying to do so. Enqueue a minimum of handled to import most of our test iTunes libraries, however even missing out on 10 % of your music is 10 % too much.

Verdict

Album Flow 1.0: 2/5
Ecoute 3.0.8: 5/5
Enqueue 1.0.1: 2/5
Fidelia 1.2.1: 5/5
Sonora 2.0 (beta):
1/5
Swinsian 1.7.1:
2/5

Test two: Ease of use

Is the interface any better than iTunes?

Sonora

Sonora seems like the app iTunes wishes to be. Its album-centric view is reminiscent of iTunes 11’s and is simply as functional. Cds can be reordered alphabetically, chronologically or by popularity. The app is quickly and responsive, and we liked its track-queuing system, from which you can save blends.

Enqueue and Swinsian ape older variations of iTunes, the previous mimics a simplified iTunes 10 with Album List view and is fine, but Swinsian feels like somebody described Apple’s app to a dev in a hurry. The result is unsightly but still broadly functional.

The staying 3 are extremely various. Album Flow resurrects Cover Flow however is oddly clunky. There’s no way to jump to an artist or album utilizing the keyboard, making it tiresome to navigate big collections.

Fidelia’s major view looks like real-world hi-fi kit, but the library is a separate window, both feel fiddly. Ecoute takes an odd column-based technique, it’s initially odd to make use of, but we warmed to its iPad-app-like charms.

Verdict

Album Flow 1.0: 2/5
Ecoute 3.0.8: 4/5
Enqueue 1.0.1: 4/5
Fidelia 1.2.1: 3/5
Sonora 2.0 (beta): 1/5
Swinsian 1.7.1: 2/5

On the next page we check music search and beneficial features.

Music search and useful features

Test three: Music search

How quickly can you discover preferred tunes?

Search

Album Flow is almost surreal with its search. It’s really sluggish, and on those instances it does provide outcomes, they are awful. Given that there’s no other simple means to browse, this is a particular letdown.

Fidelia looks magic by contrast, in spite of having just a basic list that can be filtered. Having to initially select a library to search seems old-fashioned.

Ecoute is more remarkable, its search field quickly supplying outcomes grouped by cd, artist, author, category and track. However, it’s beaten by Sonora, Swinsian and Enqueue.

Sonora’s search is similar to iTunes 11’s, however considerably faster, in a snap, you get cd, artist and track results for your search term, and you can likewise utilize the sidebar to browse to specific artists.

Swinsian is likewise very rapid, and live filters all its views (browser, list, art grid) at once. Enqueue is maybe a touch much better in this regard, although it’s somewhat slower, picking a track from a search result loads all related tracks into the sidebar, ready for you to search.

Verdict

Album Flow 1.0: 1/5
Ecoute 3.0.8: 4/5
Enqueue 1.0.1: 5/5
Fidelia 1.2: 3/5
Sonora 2.0 (beta): 5/5
Swinsian 1.7.1: 5/5

Test four: Useful features

What more goodies do the apps offer?

Fidelia

With the exception of Fidelia, all the apps on test react to media keys on fairly modern Apple keyboards, and can go full-screen in Lion and Mountain Lion. Ecoute, Enqueue and Swinsian also offer definable system-wide faster ways for crucial actions. Sonora and Swinsian support Notice Center, and all bar Album Flow and Fidelia will scrobble played tracks to Last. fm.

Going beyond the essentials, Album Flow draws in artist bios, and Enqueue has well incorporated leading artists/songs bar graphes. Ecoute and Swinsian have a desktop info window (the former likewise boasts themes), and Enqueue, Swinsian and Fidelia have mini-players – Fidelia’s being especially welcome, given that the remote-like mini-player is far more attractive than the default hi-fi user interface.

Fidelia has ‘high def’ leanings, which involve optional AU plug-ins, processing and resampling, although triggering them all expenses a wallet-busting 70 quid with in-app purchases. Its absence of more basic features is therefore baffling.

Verdict

Album Flow 1.0: 2/5
Ecoute 3.0.8: 3/5
Enqueue 1.0.1: 3/5
Fidelia 1.2.1: 2/5
Sonora 2.0 (beta): 3/5
Swinsian 1.7.1: 4/5

The winner: Ecoute

Ecoute

In a perfect world, we ‘d be commending Sonora. The application is classy and simple, and certainly in a manner iTunes will never be. However, with its inability to import iTunes libraries with any degree of success and development having actually delayed, we are forced to look somewhere else for our winner. Enqueue, also broadly outstanding, likewise stumbles severely regarding importing iTunes data.

Of the staying apps, Ecoute virtually wins by default, mostly in being able to flawlessly work with existing iTunes content as opposed to ruining an import, and additionally through having an interface that’s not just pleasant to use but that’s also not trying to clone iTunes in some way. That it’s also free to utilize doesn’t harm either.

Final verdict

Album Flow 1.0: 2/5
Ecoute 3.0.8: 4/5
Enqueue 1.0.1: 3/5
Fidelia 1.2.1: 2.5/5
Sonora 2.0 (beta): 2/5
Swinsian 1.7.1: 3/5