PJ Onori / It Plays Music

Imagine a music player that just played music

I like music as much as the next person. But I didn’t like how complicated most music apps were. I wanted something that just played music. I wanted it so bad, I decided to make it myself.

After roughly three months of designing, building and documenting the process, It Plays Music launched and is available in the App Store.

The entire ethos of this app is to focus on the music. So the aesthetic is kept restrained—using only 4 colors, 6 font sizes and 3 font weights.
That restrained aesthetic ensures the interface remains clear while not visually clashing with album art.
The library is intended to harken back to a music store (remember those?) where people navigated through music by album covers. The idea was to maximize the display of covers and remove everything unessential. Album art encompasses 80% of the library’s screen space.
I initially hoped to omit any sorting or searching in the app, but it quickly became clear they would be needed. I chose to hide them by default but make them quickly available by swiping up. This was my best solution towards balancing simplicity and availability of core features.
The album layout is kept extremely minimal with a single alignment anchor to maintain visual order. Only the bare essential metadata was added.
The album view prominently displays album art, which has the unfortunate side-effect of pushing down album tracks. The app has a hidden feature to toggle between full/srimmed view of album art via long-press. This allows people to choose how they want to engage with albums—and persisting across sessions.
To help draw focus to album tracks upon scroll, the album art is blurred and scaled to help it further recede into the background.
The mini player is the heart of the app. The goal was to have a persistent affordance for playback control that provided access to all critical functions. This meant a slightly larger mini player than other apps, but with the benefit of not having to navigate to specific areas to seek or move back/forth through tracks.
Instead of showing incredible small timestamps at all times, I chose to show incredibly large timestamps only while seeking.

After three months of work, It Plays Music made it to the App Store. I aimed to create a mobile app that simply focused on playing music—and that was accomplished. While far from perfect, it’s my personal music player of choice.