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Apple's default Music app has always served my listening needs well enough; it's easy to navigate, looks good, and offers fantastic control over my iTunes Match-stored library. But since I downloaded Ecoute, I've been singing a different tune. PixiApps' offering manages to cram an incredible amount of features onto a 4-inch screen without making things feel cramped. A heavy reliance on gestures helps keep the interface clean, and an emphasis on artwork makes my music library come alive.
Ecoute's main window takes its cues from the iPad's Music app, with a scrollable list of album covers that looks so good that I wonder why Apple hasn't adopted it yet. Tapping on an album icon uses smooth, natural animations to navigate through your collection, while the menu bar, which features the filtering options you'd expect, can be customized to put your favorites front and center. Once a song starts playing, a number of options are available -- so many, I had a hard time finding them all.
Playback is controlled by strip at the bottom of the screen, but the only obvious buttons are a chrome-polished pause/play and sharing options (including Last.fm auto-scrobbling). It seems weak, but it's not; Ecoute just eliminates unnecessary clutter. I quickly learned the basic functions, including swipe left to advance to the next song, tap to see the progress bar, and swipe up for Airplay, but some of the more advanced options are a little trickier. It took a Google search to figure out how bring up lyrics (tap the album art while in full-screen mode), so Ecoute might want to consider adding a tutorial. I also struggled to get the star rating system to work.
The bottom line. Ecoute means "listen" in French, but you won't want to take your eyes off of this vibrant music app while doing so.
iPhone or iPod touch running iOS 5.0 or later
Attractive interface. Packed with features. Great customization.
Hidden features can be hard to find. Buggy rating system.