IsraeliAmerican startup TuneWiki has come a long way.
Soon after the iPhone’s launch, the company released an application that allowed users to view highly-accurate lyrics synced karaoke style to any song stored in their music library. But because there was no App Store at the time, TuneWiki was limited to users with jailbroken (hacked) iPhones. Despite this, the application has racked up over 1.2 million downloads since its launch – a number competitive with those seen by the most popular Apple sanctioned apps. The company raised a funding round from Benchmark Capital’s Israel fund.
And now, after nearly a year of developing a Karaokee-like music program for hacked iPhones, the company has developed an application that stands a good chance at becoming the standard media player on Google’s forthcoming Android platform.
At first glance, the Android version of TuneWiki has more than a little in common with the iPhone’s default media player (except with a black color scheme). Songs are sorted into spartan but easy to navigate lists, and playing a song displays its album art alongside standard playback controls. The player integrates TuneWiki’s extensive database of lyrics, which are played karaoke-style alongside your songs (lyrics are pulled from a user-modified database). There’s also support for YouTube videos – if you search for a song you don’t have, the player will automatically take you to the YouTube version, which also support synced lyrics.
Perhaps most exciting is TuneWiki’s integration with location services. Because the player can optionally tell TuneWiki’s servers what song you’re listening to, it can offer an interactive map that displays musical tastes across the world. This could be a huge hit on college campuses, where breakthrough artists tend to be discovered first. It’s also fun to find people in Dubai who listen to Kelly Clarkson (see the video below).
One of the most key features to the iPhone’s success is its ability to sync seamlessly with a user’s media library through iTunes. TuneWiki recognizes this, and is doing everything it can to make syncing as painless as possible. The company will be offering plugins for iTunes, Windows Media Player, and Songbird, and will also feature support for wireless syncing across Bluetooth or Wi-fi.
Some of these features are already offered on the jailbroken iPhone app, but the Android version is clearly TuneWiki’s focus, and for good reason. The company is one of fifty finalists in Google’s Android Developer Challenge, and has received extensive support from Google and a number of other companies during development.
Android is an open platform, which means users (or at least device manufacturers) will be able to install whatever media player they want onto the phones. Despite this freedom, there will probably be one or two media players that emerge as the platform standards. TuneWiki has positioned itself to become one of these, with features that go above and beyond those found on the iPhone, and a focus on keeping things as simple as possible.
Here’s a demo video we took on the app running on the Android emulator: