3 Apps to Enhance The iPod: Vevo, Pandora Radio, Audiobooks

| Free on iTunes

For the past several Free on iTunes articles I’ve talked about apps that could replace or enhance the functionality of iOS built-in apps, and while I’ve gone over a bunch, there are still many more apps I could look at. However, this will be the last article I write in this particular series. It’s time to move on to other things. I’ll revisit this theme in the future, likely after Apple updates the iPhone. (iPhone 4s or iPhone 5? I’m betting it’ll be called the former.)

As this is the last article in this series it seems only fitting that it be about an application that’s patterned after the device that started it all, the iPod.

Back when it began, the iPod was a plastic and metal box about the size of a deck of playing cards, and back then it was just about the music (stupid). Over the years since the first iPod appeared, its functionality has been enhanced to provide a wider range of media and to allow it to function beyond a particular handheld device. “iPods” can now be found on your iPhone, your iPad, even your AppleTV (though it’s not called that). So, the practical definition of what an iPod is has broadened. It’s a music player, a video player, a podcast player, and an audiobook player. It organizes and outputs your media in a variety of ways, and it lets you tap into different storehouses of content so that you can share with others. These are all tricks the iPod app can do that the original iPod could never have handled.

Is there really an app that can replace the iPod app? I don’t think so. You can find alternatives to certain functions covered by the iPod, but there’s no better iPod app than the iPod app. It’s one thing that Apple has definitely done right.

So, this last article in the series about iOS replacement apps will not be about replacing the iPod app, but about substituting certain functions of the iPod with enhanced features.

For instance, if you are into music videos then you could tap the iTunes Store as a source for your booty shaking, bling flashing, fancy dancing pleasure, but that really isn’t the best way to find and enjoy music videos. That’s mainly because iTunes provides extremely limited previews and occasional freebies. And there’s no way to know what the freshest or hottest videos are. For that, my friends, you need Vevo.

Vevo

Viva Vevo for music vids!

Vevo pumps out high quality music videos on demand. It organizes them according to genre, what’s hot, what’s new, or by artist. You can create playlists and search for vids. It’ll even let you buy your favorite videos through iTunes.

Vevo

Find the latest and greatest vids on Vevo. Buy them from iTunes.

Another interesting feature is called Music Map, where it will list the videos folks in your area are watching, which is pretty cool.

Vevo will let you stream your vids to your TV over AirPlay, and that’s a good thing. However, it’s a shame Apple TV doesn’t do apps because if it did this would be one of the hottest.

Vevo

Who’s watching to what in the Hood? Vevo knows.

Best of all Vevo, and the videos it shows you are available for free! Really good stuff. So if you like your music festooned with rumps bouncing to the beat, Vevo is the best way to watch.

If you just want to listen to the music you have stored up in iTunes then the iPod app is the best (and only) way to go, but if you want to discover new music then you should probably fire up Pandora Radio.

Pandora Radio

Make your own radio stations with Pandora Radio.

Almost everyone knows what Pandora Radio does, which is testament to how well Pandora Radio fills the new music discovery void in the iPod/iTunes world.

Fire up Pandora Radio, create a “station” by giving it an artist or song you’d like to hear, and Pandora Radio creates a playlist of similar tunes and stream them to you. If you hear something you like you can buy it through the iTunes Store or Amazon right from the app.

Pandora Radio

Tune info is a great Pandora Radio feature.

You can steer the selection of tunes the station plays by rating the current one. Thumbs gets you more like what’s being played. Thumbs down gets Pandora to try something a bit different than what’s being played. If you feel like it you can review info about the artist of the song being played, and you can bookmark a tune so you can come back to it later.

What’s also great is that Pandora Radio is server based, meaning that your profile is accessible from any device you happen to be on, and you can get your stations and bookmarks anywhere you have an Internet connection.

Pandora Radio won’t let you stream what’s playing through AirPlay, which, once again, is a shame. It’s another app that would totally rock Apple TV. Apple really is missing the boat by not allowing apps on the device, but that’s a discussion for another time.

Pandora Radio’s pretty awesome all around and it should be on your iDevice.

If you are into audiobooks then finding content is fairly easy through iTunes, and playing what you’ve found on your iPod is a cinch, as long as you’re willing to pay for that content. If, however, you want free audiobooks, finding them through iTunes won’t be easy. For that you need Audiobooks (the app).

Audiobooks

Audiobooks preview or play. Do it your way.

Audiobooks taps into the huge library of free, inexpensive, and premium audiobooks, providing you with the widest possible selection from which to choose.

Why would you pay for an audiobook you can get for free? Quality. Free books are often read by amateur readers while you’ll pay to hear the stories read by by more professional readers.

The key here is that you have a gazillion titles from which to choose. The app is good too. It’ll play the audio in the background so you can use other apps while listening, offers a sleep timer, bookmarks, and more.

Auiobooks

Audiobooks listing of free and near-free books.

It is an ad supported app, but you can opt for the ad-free paid version for only a buck. Audiobooks will even let you listen to you book of choice through your home’s sound system via AirPlay, making it a wonderful way to past the time while doing chores.

Free app and free content! What more could you ask for? Grab Audiobooks, and grab some audiobooks.

OK, that’s a wrap for this week. More free music related apps below with direct links.

(Author’s note: In the original article I inaccurately said that Vevo was not AirPlay compatible. The app does work with Airplay, just make sure you reboot your iDevice before trying it. Also, I did not mention that Audiobooks is AirPlay compatible. It is, and I’ve updated the article to reflect this information.)

 

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Comments

Vern Seward

PLEASE NOTE!!!
In my article I said that Vevo and Audiobooks do not have AirPlay support. I was wrong. Turns out that they both can stream over AirPlay.

When you install the apps it’s a good idea to reboot your iDevice. Also note that in Vevo you’ll see 2 instances of some of the devices you can AirPlay to. That’s because you can Airplay either audio only or audio AND video if video is supported. Note the symbol next the the names in the AirPlay list. The speaker symbol only streams the audio. Usually the video option will have a “2” after it. Example: Vern’s Apple TV, Vern’s Apple TV 2.

I will make the appropriate corrections in the article later. Just wanted to give you readers a heads-up.

Have a great weekend.
Vern Seward

wab95

Vern:

On reading this post, I was struck by your comments about how the iPod, in the beginning, was just about the music. It is amazing how much the world has changed since the iPod’s introduction, and not just the tech world.

This simple device has proved to be one of the most paradigm shifting change agents in my living memory, certainly in the area of communications. The very term, ‘Podcast’, owes its name to the device, but it spawned new forms of information distribution, and boosted the popularity of older ones, like audiobooks.

It may take another generation to fully appreciate the impact that this little device, one of many from just one company that has been a prolific source of technological innovation, has had on the world.

Many thanks for these product reviews.

Cheers.

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