Moodagent: Going iTunes Playlists one better

Moodagent [iTunes Link] (free for now) puts a new spin on the iTunes Genius Playlist system. Instead of leaving it up to Apple to give you category based Genius Playlists, Moodagent, gives you some control over what songs will appear in a 25 song customizable playlist of your music.

You are given 5 colored bars, each with an icon representing an aspect of music. The symbols didn't make much sense to me, but by hitting an info button, I found that the icons represented, in order: Sensual, Tender, Joy, Aggressive and Tempo. I could have used a full explanation of what they meant by Aggressive and Tempo, but trial and error gave me a rough idea. By increasing or decreasing the size of each of the bars, a 25 song Playlist is created, complete with cover art icons, that can be played or saved for later recall. Increase or decrease one or more of the bars and the playlist instantly changes, so if you like a playlist, it's a good idea to save it before changing anything. Once saved, a tap will play your chosen playlist. When saving, you are also given the opportunity to title the playlist any way you like, with the first song being the default title.

Another way of making a playlist, again similar to the iTunes Genius playlist, is to select a seed song to base the list upon. Choose one song and then adjust the bars to tailor the list to your liking.

When first loading the app, you run a sync that indexes all the music on your iPhone/iPod touch running OS 3.0 or better, with their server. My iPhone has about 2100 songs on it and syncing took about 10 minutes. When done, I was told that it couldn't sync about 750 songs. This wasn't surprising since my tastes tend toward the arcane, but there's a solution for that. You are asked to download a Moodagent Profiler application that, as does iTunes Genius playlists, upload anonymous information from the iTunes library on your computer, which is assumed to have more music on it than does your mobile device. This information is used to expand the Moodagent database. After running the Moodagent Profiler on my roughly 6100 song Macbook Pro iTunes library, which took over an hour, I re-synced Moodagent and this time the number of songs that couldn't be synced reduced to 149.

So why didn't it find 149 songs?

One reason is that Moodagent doesn't handle anything encoded with DRM. I haven't yet discovered other reasons, since I only had about 60 songs in my iTunes Purchased folder. At its introduction the Moodagent database was reported to contain over 7 million songs, which is a start, but as more people use the Moodagent Profiler and increase the database, similar to the Genius Playlist system, results should get better.

Moodagent has only been out for a few days and as expected, some results are a bit odd. For no good reason, I turned Sensuality all the way up and everything else all the way down. Many of the results made sense, but Sledgehammer by Peter Gabriel? Pretty weird. My guess is that if Moodagent sells well, and the database gets dramatically expanded, results will get more predictable.

I like this app quite a lot, but I like its potential even better. The more people that upload library data using the Moodagent Profiler, the better Moodagent will become over time. On the downside: I'd like to see the 25 song restriction taken off letting the user determine the size of the playlist. I also have a few other nits to pick, like the Save and Open Playlist button positioning. As it stands, those options are always in a space just above the first song, so if you're scrolling around your list, you won't find a way to save it. This I consider minor since I was able to figure it out in under a minute, but it would be nice to have these buttons be persistent.

Download it and check it out. The price is certainly right, and I've already created a number of very enjoyable playlists that the sledgehammer (can't get that song out of my mind) approach of the iTunes Genius system, couldn't touch. Like Bookmark, for audio books, Moodagent takes an Apple system and fine tunes it, giving you something you didn't know you needed until you start playing with it and find it invaluable.

Check out this video to see Moodagent put through its paces.

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