What’s Playing?

Being an independent consultant, I often have to be where my clients are, which recently has involved a lot of driving. I’ve always enjoyed being on the road – when I’m in song-crafting mode, I’ll often have my bed tracks on to sing along with; other times it’ll be audio books or, as recently, I’ll be discovering new music by streaming curated playlists on Apple Music.

[I’ve discovered some great artists and songs this way]

Now, as much as I am a fan of new music, I’m also a fan of not crashing my car and, over repeated trips, I began to get very frustrated with the Music app on iOS. It’s fine when you’re sitting and able to focus on it, but while driving fast on a freeway, the amount of clicks to find out who is singing, or the name of the song, became very, very distracting

[and you wouldn’t believe the number of albums where the cover art doesn’t mention the artist at all]

More than once, I found myself looking away from the road for extended moments, and/or dropping the phone as I tried to juggle it with the steering wheel.


As luck would have it, I’d recently been working with a friend to develop MgmtDNA for my business, and as a long-time coder, was beginning to lift the lid on iOS apps. As I was learning, the idea of What’s Playing began to emerge and I set to work.

Fast forward to mid-January and What’s Playing was approved for the App Store.

What's Playing - available at the iOS App Store now
What’s Playing – available at the iOS App Store now

So, what does What’s Playing do? It simply tells you the artist and song you’re listening to in Apple Music

[it’s not trying to do what Shazam, or Soundhound, does]

And it does it in BIG text, so you can read it at a glance.

And it lets you touch the screen to Play/Pause.

And it lets you swipe right/left to skip between tracks.

And it lets you choose a color-scheme that suits your mood – including night-time driving.

I use the app ALL the time. Here’s a picture of What’s Playing in action just this morning:

What's Playing

If you’re an Apple Music user, you’ll know how different it is to be able to read the artist name at this distance from the screen.

[a good example above – Gui Boratto – a Brazilian artist I’d never heard of until this morning]

All the time I was developing the app, I’d have music playing on my iPhone in front of me on the desk, with the latest version of What’s Playing up-and-running. As new songs came on, I got used to just glancing down to the phone to see who it was, and then straight back to work. What usually took full attention became a quick glance.

Now, the funny thing is, once Music is playing, I immediately jump over to What’s Playing, I’m so used to it!

I’m looking forward to extending the functionality of What’s Playing

[including, possibly, a version for Mac OS X]

but it’ll never lose it’s core focus – letting you know what’s playing without putting you at risk of crashing the car, or falling off the treadmill!

What’s Playing is available at the iOS App Store now.


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