CoverFlow: Better Digital Music Navigation

Cover art

Remember the days when you’d long to listen to music by the album? You went over to your shelves and looked at the album artwork to find the music you wanted to listen to. With the invention of MP3s and digital music players, the concept of album covers as navigational aids got lost (along with shelves full of records). Suddenly looking for a song meant you had to know the artist, album, or song name. As a visual thinker, I can easily tell you what any album in my music collection looks like from memory, but have a real problem with knowing what album a given song is on.

Enter CoverFlow, an ingenious visual navigation system for your iTunes library. After only one day of use, I was absolutely amazed by how much I preferred it to the text only iTunes alternative. The user interface is simple yet highly effective for finding artists or albums by name, but allows for a more explorative selection of music. Searching through 50 albums is easier with CoverFlow, because it allows you to actually “scrub”[1] through an extensive collection of music in seconds and recognize each cover as you pass them. By browsing, you find albums you’ve neglected because of their spatial relation to other albums.

Browsing by album art is truly a far better system of navigation.

I urge you all to go and download the free application. Use it for one day and see if it doesn’t turn you back into a visual browser again.

[1] Video editing term, where one can fast-forward or reverse through a video quickly with use of a jog-shuttle.