Third Annual iOS Music Player Competition

"jetAudio" iOS app icon jetAudio

Image of "jetAudio" light album view Image of "jetAudio" light player view
Image of "jetAudio" dark album view Image of "jetAudio" dark player view

jetAudio may be new to me, but is actually one of the oldest players on this list, with the first iOS version hailing all the way from 2014. Don’t let the underwhelming App Store listing promo screenshots deceive you, jetAudio is a surprisingly feature-rich and customizable player, albeit with some minor drawbacks.

On the surface, jetAudio is a standard, general-purpose player, with the conventional “Artists”, “Albums”, “Songs”, etc. views all tucked away under a hamburger menu. However, jetAudio’s depth reveals itself upon diving into its player view and preferences.

In the player view, tapping the top half of the album art reveals a treasure trove of hidden features. One such feature is—as far as I’m aware—unique to jetAudio: a suite of visualizers. At time of writing, jetAudio provides twenty unique visualizers to choose from, along with an “Auto Change” option to automatically cycle through them at a set interval. While they’re not all to my taste, with jetAudio providing so many to choose from this hardly warrants a complaint. You can see a few of my favorites in the compilation below.

Brief demonstration of LED Spectrum, Reflected Spectrum, and Stained Glass, three of the twenty visualizers available in jetAudio.

There’s still plenty in the player view toolbar we’ve yet to explore; there’s a suite of equalizer and audio enhancer plugins available for purchase, among them a full, traditional equalizer board. All these capabilities make jetAudio fantastic for listeners who love granular, professional control over their audio playback on iOS. While I personally dislike effects or equalization curves added to my music, every single one provided by jetAudio can be disabled to return to flat playback. The toolbar also includes a sleep timer like Music Player X does, but jetAudio’s timer interface blows Music Player X’s out of the water with its use of the iOS roulette “picker” wheel instead of Music Player X’s practically unusable “tap to add more seconds” approach.

The feature-rich toolbar isn’t without issue; The toolbar is comically undiscoverable, providing no labels or buttons to indicate its existence. This forces users to just “know” that tapping an arbitrary area of the album art will toggle the bar’s visibility, a textbook case of poor interface design. To top it off, no animations of any kind accompany showing or hiding the toolbar. Instead, the toolbar lazily pops in and out of view with no easing whatsoever. Frankly, everything about the toolbar aside from the actual features it contains is a catastrophic mess and begs for a usability and experience redesign.

jetAudio’s independent library support is also marred by a mediocre implementation. While jetAudio does indeed support importing and managing music independently of iTunes and Apple Music, it’s very limited compared to its contemporaries like Doppler 2 and Doppi. jetAudio only supports two methods of music transfer: importing with iTunes on Windows or Finder on macOS and importing with peer-to-peer WiFi. While this covers both wired and wireless use-cases, it’s nonetheless disappointing AirDrop’s not supported. Additionally, music imported this way is not represented in the app’s standard browser views like “Artists”, “Songs”, etc. Instead, music added this way is siphoned off to a separate “Folder” view, which can only display the files exactly as they were sent. This means jetAudio ignores your library’s metadata for the purposes of organizing and presenting your music, it just displays them like Windows Explorer or Finder would (including their file extensions). While jetAudio providing this feature at all is nice, its peers like Doppler 2 and Doppi blow it out of the water; they treat music imported this way as first-class citizens, as if they were managed and synced with iTunes or Apple Music, leaving jetAudio’s choice to both segment and display them like regular files feeling like a quick and cheap afterthought, in comparison.

However, these misses are quickly forgiven upon discovering jetAudio’s genuinely impressive arsenal of interface customization options, rivaled only in number by Marvis Pro. Not only does jetAudio provide the ability to view your music in list and grid views (as any mature player should), it even provides granular control over those views. For grid view, you can customize the number of columns to better fit your screen size and taste. While Marvis Pro also supports such customization (the only other player I’ve found that does), even it doesn’t provide equivalent customization options for list views like jetAudio does; for list view, you can also customize the item size, ranging anywhere from the traditional “tight” list items used for most other players to comically massive list items. To top it off, these options are uniquely persisted per menu, so you can have the “Albums” view display with a grid but keep “Artists” as a list. This only scratches the surface of jetAudio’s customization features, which to highlight a few more include the ability to crossfade song transitions and even graceful fade in or out when pausing and playing (one of my personal favorites).

While jetAudio no doubt has issues to sort out, it supports many features that simply aren’t available anywhere else; it’s unrivaled in equalization, the only player I’ve found supplies multiple visualizers to choose from, and the only player that rivals Marvis Pro in sheer number of interface configuration options. Since visualizers are a brand new feature this year, development is clearly still thriving after all these years and shows no signs of slowing down. If you’ve seen jetAudio in the store before and written it off in the past like I once did, I encourage you reconsider and give it a shot.

Widgets

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Personal Score Card

  • :trophy: Beautiful or visually engaging player view: With plenty of visualizers to choose from, it’s one of the most engaging player views of the lot.
  • :heavy_check_mark: iPad support
  • :heavy_check_mark: Light & dark themes
  • :heavy_check_mark: Lyrics support
  • :large_orange_diamond: Album-focused features
    • :large_orange_diamond: Proper sorting: Proper sorting is available in the “Artists” view, but is unfortunately not supported in the “Albums” view.
    • :trophy: Album grid view: Allows you to not only use grids but also customize the number of columns. Only one other player lets you do this (Marvis Pro).
  • :x: Discovery features
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