Do you have a go-to person on whom you always rely for new music? For me, that friend is Hype Machine, a cultishly popular free Web service that aggregates links to the most buzzed-about songs that get posted across handpicked music blogs. When I'm on a desktop, Hype Machine is my music player of choice. When I'm on the go, it?s Hype Machine?s excellent, and unofficial, free Android client, UberHype.
Uberhype is a full-featured mobile version of Hype Machine, stripped of all the ads and with a slick, mobile-centric design. Because it streams songs, it ?requires a constant Internet connection to use.
Passion Pays Off
The Uberhype interface is so gorgeously designed, I almost fell out of my chair when I learned that it was someone's pet project that hadn't even been monetized yet. Back in the summer of 2011, Gaurav Mehta, a developer in Boston and hardcore Hype Machine fan, built a, homespun Android client for Hype Machine. The result was rough, but the Hype Machine founders liked it so much they gave Mehta the APIs to hook into the service. A few months later, Mehta released UberHype, a music player built on top of Hype Machine's aggregation engine. Hype Machine actually has an official app for the iPhone ($3) designed with Hype's white and green motif, but I prefer UberHype?s darker and more dramatic color scheme.
Best Music Discovery App. Ever.
These days, a lot of new artists bypass major music labels and publish their new songs straight to the blogs. Hype Machine, and thus UberHype, trawls the music blogosphere and curates the hottest tracks based on click-throughs and buzz on Twitter and Facebook. The majority of these songs are remixes or mashups, like a song piecing together Childish Gambino (rapper), Bon Iver (folk singer), and The Police (you know, The Police!).
UberHype also lets you display original songs only. However, the original songs you wind up with tend to come from emerging artists, or those who aren?t actively taking down their music for licensing purposes. You won?t find untampered songs from Mariah Carey, for example, but you?ll find plenty of Mariah Carey songs remixed by various DJs.? On the other hand you?ll find plenty of original tracks from Radiohead, a band that embraces the Internet and has taken to debuting albums online.
Two Listening Modes: Social or Anti-Social
You can start listening to music from UberHype with or without a Hype Machine account. If you sign in with an account, you can "heart" songs you like, which saves them to a list of favorites that you can access anytime. Logging in also lets you publish your favorite songs or currently playing songs on Twitter and Facebook, or add songs to Last.fm (scrobbling). In Hype Machine, you can follow other members and check out what songs they've "heart"ed. Unfortunately you can't add new people to follow from within UberHype, but you can access your existing list of friends. Yes, you can do the whole friend following thing in Spotify, Pandora, Slacker, and pretty much every other Internet music player these days, but there's less friction through Uberhype (a single tap versus several).
A neat feature that you'll find in the app, but not in Hype Machine, is genre-based radio stations for passive listening. From your home screen you can tap to see the most buzzed-about genres of the week, and then tap on a genre to start a stream of the latest songs from that genre.
Slick, But Still Needs Polish
UberHype is off to a great start, but it does contain a few kinks. For one, I couldn't log in for the longest time (the app just kept saying "Sign-in Failed") but finally went through after I contacted Mehta. I t never crashed on my Galaxy Nexus, but I've heard it does on older Androids. Also, UberHype doesn't sync quickly enough to Hype Machine.
Still, these complaints aren't enough to turn me away from UberHype. I hope Mehta gets funding to polish this app and attract even more Android-wielding music lovers to the music cult that is the Hype Machine. Because of the independent-oriented music selection, UberHype can't replace mainstream music players like Spotify and Slacker, but it's a must-have for anyone who loves music and Android.?
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