For this week’s App of the Week I’ve gone with somewhat of a musical theme. Additionally, my chosen App coincides with Apple’s featured App of the Week, firstly because it wanted to see what it was all aboutand secondly I wanted to find out how Apple has the guts to feature an app which has some very suspicious looking five star reviews which seem to bump it’s score up. You know the ones where they are almost quoted from an advert?
SongKick is an App which promises to deliver “100000 concerts in your pocket”. At first glance this opening statement of the description seemed to imply that this was some sort of either concert video streaming App or an on-demand concert video library but instead I was left with what I have decided on calling a “concert discovery app”. Why they mentioned that the concerts were “in your pocket” I don’t know, in order to properly use this app you have to be serious about going to concerts. For me, with a voucher for tickets just waiting to be used, I am definitely in the market for tour dates.
The SongKick service is one that you need an account for, however you can use the App’s basic features (checking dates and venues) without registering. What’s handy is that you can register inside the app including the Facebook Connect authorisation. After registering you are able to add potential live events to your profile so that you can manage dates, locations and even post/tweet about them to friends.
As with many semi-commercial Apps at present, the UI and design is very solid. I usually find myself picking up on little visual quirks which make the experience less immersive when I use other Apps (CheckMyTour I’m looking at you…) but I found none of this when using SongKick.
Also impressive was the locations feature which used the Google maps API to pinpoint the location of every event and display it inside the event information page without having to touch through multiple screens and dialogs to see it. It also managed to be available on the details page without being obtrusive as you’d expect when displaying a readable map of a local area on such a small screen.
Finally, the handy library scanning feature that I forgot to mention earlier managed to pick up all the artists in my library and profile them, with pictures, despite many of the artists in my library being obscure or old. The artist picture library I found was very impressive after working with software such as XBMC (media software) where to find a picture to use as an artist thumbnail requires meticulous online searching if the artist is so much as a little obscure. I could then select these artists to find out about their nearest tour dates which is really handy and saves from a lot of data entry.
One thing that detracted from the App’s success was the shallowness of the feature set. I was left was a feeling of “is that it?” after about 5 minutes of playing around. To do anything such as book tickets or anything technical requires you to jump out of the app into Safari with, in many cases no way to jump back into the app which I find to be very frustrating.
Another disappointing aspect was the location based event discovery. My nearest city is Oxford which is the easiest place to get to for events but the App doesn’t seem to realise that I am willing and able to go further than Oxford to see my favourite bands and so, due to limited offerings in Oxford, suggests that I may like to see artists such as Michael Ball in concert. While Michael Ball would be brilliant if I was a 50-year-old female fan of musicals, at present I’m not his biggest fan as therefore it’s a little silly for that sort of artist to be suggested to me when I have artists such as Muse and MGMT prevalent in my library.
While I mentioned that I was a fan of the location viewer earlier. that’s not to say that it couldn’t improve dramatically. Upon much closer inspection I began to question the validity of having a map available when there were no directions in and out of the area by, any means of transport, available in the app. Imagine having the bus and train routes to the concert available without having to go through the maps app and some data entry first…
In summary, while this app is free it really doesn’t provide that much ease of use past what you would be able to do in the same amount of time just through the iPhone’s web browser. Additionally it occurs to me that the planning to attend a live event would be something that sane people plan weeks or even months before the actual day and so generally would have some sort of PC to use beforehand without having to resort to the lack of options available in an iPhone App. While this App is free I really don’t feel it is worth the space on your iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad and so I wouldn’t recommend downloading it.