Those of us with large music libraries know how much of a pain it can be to choose what to listen to. Sometimes there’s no time to make a decent playlist; other times you simply don’t even know where to start. While the basic music app on the iPhone is efficient and easily sorts your music, it doesn’t do a good job presenting your music to you when you don’t know what to listen to.
However, in all the areas the default music app is lacking, Groove 2 shines. Featuring intuitive gesture controls and a robust playlist generator, it’s an excellent choice for any music enthusiast.
Open up Groove 2 and you’ll notice things look radically different from most music players. Instead of an abundance of text and lists, there is album artwork and photos of your favorite artists displayed throughout the screen. Up top is a spotlight, which includes an assortment of your favorite albums, artists and genres.
In the middle of the screen there is a dividing row with four buttons for creating a playlist. Powered by the massive music database Last.fm, Groove 2’s playlist generator automatically creates playlists filled with appropriate songs. Instead of randomly shuffling songs together, it chooses songs that work well together, like those in the same genre or by similar artists.
The four buttons will allow you to customize what kind of playlist is created: “Groovy Mix” creates a mash of songs that fit well together, “Surprise Me” will create a playlist with songs you haven’t listened to in a while, “Favorites” will make a playlist based on your most preferred type of music and “Three of a Kind” will form a playlist with three songs by the same artist followed by another three from a different artist and so on.
Hitting the icon in the top left makes the navigational sidebar slide out from the left. A set of well-designed monochrome icons sit next to the labels so it’s easy to recognize what means what. Besides the Home icon, there are four other categories into which your music is organized. Artists and albums are self-explanatory; Tags leads to a page where your music is divided by distinctive features like “orchestral,” “indie,” or “’90s.” Playlists shows all your self-created playlists but will also display any automatically created playlists that you chose to save.
“Tutorial” will lead you through a simple guide that’ll show you how to use Groove 2 and its many gestures. “Settings” includes options to link your Facebook or Last.fm account for social sharing, the ability to toggle iTunes Match on or off, and what action to take when you shake your iOS device.
The Artist Page
The Artist page allows you to quickly browse through all of the music you have by any particular artist. In addition to showing all albums and tracks by the artist, the page also shows an excellent profile picture of the band and a excerpt of their biography — pressing the text will lead you to a full bio.
There are also quick commands for playing the all the artist’s music that you currently have in your library, play your favorite songs by the artists, or generate a playlist based on the particular artist’s type of sound.
Groove 2’s music controls are largely gesture-based. This means that there’s a whole lot less tapping and a whole lot more swiping, which is incredibly useful when you can’t afford to look at your iPhone.
Swiping horizontally skips the track forwards or backwards, dragging up or down changes the volume, and swiping with two fingers to the left will create a random matching playlist. Of course, there are still basic buttons and a volume slider for those who prefer them, as well as the ability to share any song on Facebook, Twitter or by email.
Groove 2 excels at making awesome playlists; in many ways, it’s what I wish Genius was for the default music app. It’s fast, simple and pain-free. The app organizes your library, accurately tags it and even adds album artwork for tracks with missing images. However, Groove 2 isn’t good at everything. While it’s good at playlist creation, it’s not as fast to use when you want to choose what artist or album to listen to. Also, navigating via the sidebar is quite a bit slower than simply having a tab bar with buttons like the default music app.
All in all, whether Groove 2 is worth $3.99 is up to you. It performs its advertised function incredibly well, so if you’re looking for a comprehensive playlist creator, you’ll love it. Nonetheless, if you prefer listening to albums as a whole or choosing what song you want to listen to, then it’s probably not the app for you.