THE GOOD: Free music streaming; legitimate platform for buying music with a fairly wide array of artistes; uses phone credit to buy in app “Spinlet credits”
THE BAD: Downloaded music is in proprietary format and cannot be shared; several bugs including when playing music and when purchasing credits; requires you have a fast active data connection to stream/download songs.
Spinlet is a music distribution service that hopes to serve as a digital bridge between artiste’s and consumers. Today, i’ll be reviewing the Spinlet app for Android. With Spinlet you get music from a fairly wide array of musicians with some classics like from the legendary Sir Victor Uwaifo.
The user interface part of this review will be split into three parts namely Music, Store and Friends with respect to the three main features of the application. Another thing to point out is that the interface is fairly intuitive and an average user should be able to come to gripes with the way the app operates in a short amount of time.
USER INTERFACE: MUSIC
The first major feature of the Spinlet for Android app is Music. Music is where the music on your device is along with music you downloaded from Spinlet. You must be warned that it only sorts song by Albums and Artists leaving out views by individual songs.
Another issue that I have is that you have limited options while playing a track with a big feature missing is an equalizer to tweak volumes of the current playing song.
USER INTERFACE: STORE
Store is where you can browse for songs. Other things you can do is stream songs and download purchased songs. Open the Store and you are presented with four tabs namely: Bestsellers, Recent Releases, Genres and Discover Me. After the four tabs, the featured tracks are displayed(22 tracks to be precise). There is always a local and global tab in whatever tab you choose but by global music i assume they mean international artistes and they are pretty scanty there.
There is a search icon you can tap on to search for music. The search displays under artists by default with the option of switching to two other tabs namely Albums and Songs. If the music that you searched for is not under artist but under song it will indicate with a blue exclamation mark.
USER INTERFACE: FRIENDS
The third major feature of the Spinlet for Android app is that you can add your friends who also use the Spinlet app. This is not limited to Android as you can add friends that use the Spinlet app on Symbian or Blackberry.
For this review i sent a request to my friend Yinka who uses Spinlet on his Symbian smartphone. On opening the Friends tab, you are presented with a “My Profile” tab which you can click on to view your full profile on Spinlet. If you have added a friend to your Spinlet network you also get to see your shared playlists in this tab.
There are also two other tabs aptly named Friends and Messages. The friends tab gives you two options of inviting a friend and searching for a friend. If you already have a friend on your list you can view their profile there also. Something to note is that you must know your friend’s username else you would not be able to find him/her.
The third tab – Messages; shows conversations that you have with your friends. It is a form of chat and both you and your friend can chat via the Messages tab.
Immediately i started using the app i downloaded quite a number of songs and download was quick and fast with no issues whatsoever. Buffering music was also smooth, though you must note that i was on an Etisalat 3G connection.
Purchasing credits was however messy as i couldn’t get it to work. I had 100 Naira and i tried purchasing the credits several times with no luck. That was about a week ago but as at the time of this review i have not tried to purchase credits again.
Music playback is okay with only a few issues that an in-app equalizer would have fixed.
My first issue with the app is the lack of equalizer controls. Another issue is the fact that if you receive a call while using Spinlet to play a song, it will not resume playback once you are through with the call.This is not limited to phone calls only, if you do anything that triggers your phone to sound e.g receive a message or snap a photo; playback will be stopped and you have to manually resume it yourself. Also whenever you are playing music, the indicator in the notification bar only gives you options to pause and play with no forward/skip button which is annoying because you then have to visit the app to do something as rudimentary as skipping a song.
Several times when i’m playing songs in the playlist i created, some songs will play without actually outputting any sound whatsoever.
You must be informed that any music that you download via the Spinlet app is stored in proprietary format in the /mnt/sdcard/spinlet directory. So what that means is that every music that you download is not shareable by Bluetooth and if you wipe the cache of the Spinlet app you will lose all your downloaded songs. This issue is limited to the Android app as i consulted with my friend who uses the Spinlet app on his Symbian smartphone and he says it downloads in mp3 format.
Another thing to note is that it requires a SIM card to work, when i tried opening it without a SIM card i had the error below. Even if you have an active Wi-Fi connection it still demands that you have a SIM card inserted. Going into Airplane mode also triggers this error.
An issue i had when i was downloading was that if you are downloading an album for example, there is no way for you to stop download of a certain track. You can pause the download but it would just resume from where it was. If you tap cancel on a track it will cancel the entire queued download. Let’s take a scenario for example; you want to download three songs so you tap download three different times. You then change your mind on downloading song 2 while song 1 is still downloading; there is no way for you to remove song 2 except you cancel the download of the 3 songs – annoying isn’t it?.
I am not a music lover in any way but i have been able to get my daily dose of music via the app. It has even become the default music player for my device. Major issues i have is the non shareability of downloaded songs and limited options during playback. Purchasing issues should also be looked into but apart from this it is an excellent effort of how to listen and download music legally so far bandwidth permits.
Note: Olayinka Oladele Contributed to this post