Jarle Bernhoft, a Norwegian singer and composer with a following in the U.S. and Europe, has released a rather groundbreaking "album" as an iOS app titled Bernhoft Islander. It's US$20.00, similar in price to a high resolution audio-only download.
Billed as the "world's first HD audio visual album app", there is a boatload of content as well as a high resolution copy of the Islander album. The app has an integrated player to support the HD audio, which is 48K 24-bit.
Along with the album tracks, the app features an interactive mixing console, where you can re-mix the album on your own, giving you access to all the recorded tracks. You can also manually add percussion by tapping on-screen controls. There is a very unique 360 degree video, that lets you move in a circle and watch the band play from any angle. There are also videos, song lyrics, photo galleries and bios of the players.
With the adoption of MP3 files and mobile music, we have lost both audio quality and the in-depth notes that we used to get on phono albums and CDs. This app goes way beyond the legacy packaging, letting you explore the artist and even make your own creative decisions about how the music will be heard. Bernhoft is not a household name, but it would be amazing to see music companies release this kind of package for well-known popular artists.
I applaud the people who put this app together for their creativity and vision. The $20.00 price is too high in my view, but this was a lot of work and the package, taken as a whole, is a worthwhile exploration.
Bernhoft Islander is a universal app, and it is a big one -- almost 1.5 GB to download. The built-in player can play back the high resolution files, but note that iDevices headphone jacks don't support anything more than 16-bit audio. Even so, the music sounds great on headphones.
The app requires iOS 6 or later, and it is optimized for the iPhone 5. It's hard to convey how impressive this app is in presentation and operation. It might be a glimpse into the future of mobile music.