By Nate Adcock on Thu, 03/08/2012
Cover flow, being one of the most attractive electronic music selector schemes to come along since the diner booth jukebox, was left off of the iPad. I have tried a ton of ways to browse mobile music over the years. Cover Flow is the best, at least in terms of coolness factor and more importantly providing the illusion that I own physical recordings. Back in the day when you bought a record, you could take it to a friend's house, play it on their stereo, let them keep it for a week. You could open the jacket and read about the band, study the song lyrics, and catch a brief glimpse of that other world where all the cool people live. You had to imagine what it would be like to hang out with them though--no MTV, YouTube or reality shows. Cover flow brought back a part of the nostalgia of the experience. Album Flow brings cover flow to iPad.
Album Flow is a tiny 1.2MB, but costs $1.99 which is a little heavy for an app that is yet just another way to play music. The actual CF experience is smooth and responsive in this app, and though your art won't look as good as it does on iPod or iPhone, it is a worthy enhancement. The strength of the app really lies in all the darn customization and touch-intuitive features that are available.
The interface is clean and attractive, and it makes optimum use of iPad's additional size to provide a panel layout that is better than the internal player. You can zoom on the 2 player panels to make them full screen if you prefer. The player controls themselves are decent, but not spectacular--no fancy button animations, etc.
The app let's you do a lot of customizing of the background images, colors and fonts. I think it would be simpler for users if there were selectable themes to choose from instead, but it's kind of cool to be able to control the look-n-feel like this. You can also share what your listening to via email, twitter, or facebook using selections in the main player panel.
Ad-Hoc Playlists can be created on the fly by selecting and holding onto song as you browse album contents. There's also a handy search that will let you drill down on an artist, album or song. I had little to no trouble with the app on my iPad 1, and only a few minor gripes. One was that it didn't save your last state after closing it (which developer says will be supported in an update), and the background customizations required an app restart to apply.
You can grab Album Flow for iPad at the following link on the Apple iTunes store for $1.99. If you miss Cover Flow, then you probably need this one!