Streaming music apps are definitely in vogue these days, and with Spotify, Rdio, and other services’ slick Mac, mobile, and web apps, it’d seem that you wouldn’t need anything more. There’s plenty of companion apps in the App Store so you can get exactly the music experience you want. It’d seem that you’d never need anything more.
That is, unless you live somewhere that doesn’t have access to the most popular streaming music services, like in Asia. Then, Grooveshark is your best option, and it’s only available as a web app, albeit one that works globally. So if you’re a Grooveshark fan but want a nicer way to play music on your Mac, what are you to do?
Shiny Groove is fresh out of beta, and you can get your own copy of Shiny Groove from the App Store today for $3.99
Grooveshark, finally a first class Mac music service
Grooveshark’s music library isn’t nearly as complete as other services, it’s been beset with legal challenges, and it doesn’t have native apps on iOS, much less the Mac. It has an experimental HTML5 mode, but for the most part still requires Flash Player for the best experience. There’s not tons going for the service, except for the fact that it’s stayed around this long, and that it works almost everywhere around the world. That’s quite the differentiator, especially when most of the best streaming services only work in the US and Europe.
Grooveshark has kept plugging away, with a new web app and an honestly not-half-bad service, one I use fairly regularly in Thailand since I can’t use most of the other services. But now, there’s another reason you might want to give Grooveshark a try, even if you’re in a country that has more streaming options: Shiny Groove. It’s a delightful little Grooveshark player for the Mac that makes Grooveshark fun to use.
Hey wait, that’s the web…
First, though, you’ll still have to use Grooveshark’s web app. Fire up Shiny Groove, and you’ll see the familiar Grooveshark website open in Shiny Groove’s mini-browser. There’s a few differences: a Grooveshark logo on the left, and a iTunes 11-style miniaturize icon on the right. You’ll need to have Flash Player installed, as there’s no way to switch it to the HTML5 player, and you’ll still need to queue up your own songs or turn on radio stations just like you would in your browser.
Once your music is queued up, though, Shiny Groove is ready to work its magic. Tap the miniaturize button, and Grooveshark’s web interface disappears into a small player that’s reminiscent of iTunes’s new miniature player, or other 3rd party apps like Bowtie. All you’ll see is the cover art with a slight window glare added on top – and surprisingly, your music will be far more likely to have cover art in Shiny Groove than in Grooveshark itself.
That’s a nice surprise, as is how nice Grooveshark’s like and save features are built into the play/pause/next buttons. You’ll be able to use your keyboard, Apple remote, and earbud controls to switch tracks as well.
There’s a couple of other nice things. The mini-player stays on top of all of your open apps, but you can click its menubar icon to hide it. Or, you can shake the player and – poof – it’ll disappear in a puff of smoke, just like when you remove an icon from your Dock (or erase something on the Newton, if your Apple experience goes back that far). Then, try switching to a new track, and the flipping animation is a skeuomorphic but cute way to switch songs.
Making Shiny Groove shine
There’s not much more to the app; it’s just a simple player for an online streaming service, after all. But, you can choose to remove the dock or menubar icon, turn off the animation, and pick what song info and remote options you want to use. It’s worth nothing that the Apple Remote and earphones track changing features won’t make it into the final App Store release of the app, due to sandboxing restrictions. You’ll need to buy it directly from Shiny Frog for that.
So, if you’re already using Grooveshark, or are considering giving it a try, you should definitely download Shiny Groove. It’s free right now in beta, works great, and even has a few surprises up its sleeve. That’s more than you can expect from most simple apps.