Until recently, Soundcloud’s mobile platform has been a scaled down version of their main site layout. Pretty simple stuff: tracks, play buttons, waveforms, art etc. But this new overhaul is the most drastic visual change since it was first launched. Here are our thoughts on it:
There Are No Play Buttons
At least not immediately. To play a track you click on its artwork. When you pause the track, the play/pause shows up. It takes a bit to get used to, since subconsciously we’re used to always having the “play” button associated with playing a track.
Side Scrolling Waveforms
One of the biggest complaints about Soundcloud and its signature waveform player is that people often skip to the ‘drop’. They’re offering an interesting solution to this by having the track start and gradually slide to the left of your screen as the track plays. You can still scroll through the waveform by dragging, but this new player will hopefully encourage listeners to check the full track.
Once the track plays, its artwork begins to scroll from left to right. This is an interesting interactive feature (as you skim ahead, so does its artwork placement), but you’re still only getting a hyper zoomed mid section of the artwork.
As Soundcloud continues to move toward something like a social network, or a blog, its layout design looks more like tumblr or facebook. It’s clean, and loads fast (at least on wifi), which is great. It has a new feature where, when scrolling up and down, more of the track’s artwork reveals within its cropped rectangular space. At first this movement made me nauseous, but after using it for a week, I’m into it.
Also, the artwork is the main focus now, as opposed to whoever uploaded it. The main site (and the previous mobile layout) put a big emphasis on the text title, so you’d look for new music based on the artists you’ve been following. Artwork on the mainpage now shows up in cropped rectangles and playlists are in full boxes. Text is secondary, with artist’s names appearing in grey on black, and although track names stand out, their smaller text often gets cut off, which is important for seeing who remixed a track.
Each track or playlist’s stats now show up below the artwork in play counts or reposts (standard tracks) and hearts (playlists).
As of right now, comments don’t show up and there’s no way to comment on a track. This is an interesting move from the team which puts the music at the forefront and steps away from making Soundcloud a more social platform.
As far as we can tell, there’s no way to check descriptions on tracks. This means you can’t check tracklists for mixes or personal messages from the artists.
One of the best new features of Soundcloud mobile is its ease of sharing. Before, the best way to grab a Soundcloud’s URL from mobile was to use the “Email” feature, grab the URL, and then cancel out, (“Are you sure?”). But now, you just click “More”, then “Share” then “Copy” and you’ve got the link.
The “Hide” button is essentially your “Back” button. When you want to skim through the feed while listening to a track, hit “Hide” and your track shows up at the bottom nav bar as a moving waveform. It’d be nice if you could also navigate back to the track you’re on by clicking its image in the main feed again (this currently starts the track over again).
Soundcloud’s new dropdown tab defaults at your main “Stream” playlist but also offers sections for “Trending Music”, “Trending Audio” and a genre-based playlist section.
It’s a nice, clean, mostly quick-loading layout and although navigation is a bit wonky, and it’s hard to tell exactly what you’re getting into from the main page, there’s extra emphasis on discovering music you’ve never heard before. It’d be nice to see some sort of “Radio” feature similar to Pandora or Spotify’s song or artist generated playlists. Overall, good stuff. Nice one Soundcloud team.