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Twitter's #music app for iOS leverages massive user base to recommend new tunes

Twitter on Thursday opened up public access the new "Twitter #music" service and corresponding iOS app to its 200 million users, effectively creating an instant social network for music lovers to listen to trending hits, discover new artists and get crowd-sourced recommendations.

Twitter #music, currently an iOS and Web app exclusive, offers users a streaming music service for selected tracks, complied based on Tweets and community engagement

The microblogging giant doesn't appear to be hosting its own media collection, as users must first tie in their Spotify of Rdio accounts before listening to full-length songs. Previews are provided through iTunes, but they are limited to 30-second snippets.

In use, the app consists of four main navigation pages: Popular, Emerging, Suggested and #NowPlaying. Users can navigate to a page by swiping, or from a persistent drop down menu located at the top of the screen. Popular is self-explanatory, and takes the top-trending songs on Twitter, laying them out in an interactive grid of tiles. Instead of showing the track name, the artist's profile pic is displayed along with their Twitter handle.

Clicking on one of the tiles enlarges it, showing what song is trending. For example, M83 (@m83news) was number two in the Popular category, but users can only see which of his tracks, in this case "Oblivion" from the movie of the same name, is trending by expanding the tile.

This same UI is used throughout the app, including the Emerging page, which highlights upcoming songs and talent. It is unclear how this section is curated, but it seems to be a universal category, meaning it will throw up the same chart for all users.

The tiles themselves are gateways to other Twitter features. Arranged in the small space is dedicated Tweet button, play/pause controls, a simple graphical equalizer and a link to the artist's Twitter account. Artists can be followed, and users can also see which music makers the artist is following.

During playback, a small CD graphic with spinning artwork shows up in the bottom left of the screen. Clicking on it will bring up playback controls, including AirPlay output, volume slider and the ability to scrub through a song. Here too there is a link to an artist's Twitter account as well as an option to tweet out the currently playing track with the #NowPlaying hashtag.

Twitter #music

#NowPlaying has its own dedicated page in the app, which is populated by songs and artists recently tweeted about by the people a user follows.

Finally, the Suggested page offers recommendations based on already followed artists, much in the same way Pandora or other music streaming services allow users to explore new music based on their listening history.

With a slick UI and deep social connectivity, Twitter #music is one of the better music discovery apps out there. As with any new app, there are a few quibbles, the biggest of which being the Spotify and Rdio requirement.

Twitter #music for iOS is available now as a free download from the App Store.