Swiss mobile development and design firm Clever & Son bills itself as a “maker of premium apps,” and judging by Couch Player, its latest creation, the startup lives up to its name. Couch Player is essentially a replacement for the built-in Apple Music app on the iPad, but it manages to be much more with just a few simple tweaks.
In particular, Couch Player emphasizes the playlist, and reorganizes the entire experience to make that the central focus of the app. Playlist creation on Couch Player is handled via simple drag-and-drop gestures, with a browsing interface that takes better advantage of the iPad’s ample screen real estate to make it possible to simultaneously navigate your entire iTunes library (either stored locally or in the cloud via iTunes Match) while also keeping an eye on and adding to your playlists.
You can easily create multiple playlists on the fly, and switch between them too, all while keeping your library open and browsable in a column on the left-hand side. Small features like the ability to swipe left on any song in a playlist and get related albums, artist and song suggestions for other content to add to the playlist add feature functionality.
Couch Player doesn’t offer much flare in terms of interface design, but there is a playback progress bar that’s color-coded based on the album cover for the currently playing track. And the simplicity is actually one of its most attractive features: everything gets out of the way so you can concentrate on building the perfect playlist for an outdoor picnic or pick-up basketball game.
Simplicity was the name of the game for Clever & Son co-founder and managing director Tobias Gemperli in designing Couch Player, he explained in an interview. The point wasn’t to replace default system software, but to transform playlists from a feature into a focus.
“Our aim was not to create a feature complete music app but rather to concentrate on the core functionality which is the playlist creation,” he explained in an email interview. “Since we couldn’t find any app which does this well on the iPad we decided to build our own. Our aim was to make playlist creation an experience on its own.”
Some unfortunate things missing from Couch Player include an AirPlay or Bluetooth sound device source selector from within the app, but it’s a relatively minor complaint because you can still use your iPad’s multi-tasking bar to choose a speaker to connect to. But the simplicity with which you can build and switch between playlists is what makes Couch Player appealing, and that part is well executed.
Couch Player will be released Thursday, March 21 in the App Store for the public, where it’ll be available for a starting price of $2. If you’re looking for a home jukebox experience that works with your existing library, it’s an intelligently designed app, and the kind of thing Apple should be looking at for clues about improving on its own inbuilt player experience.