Why Albums is My New Favorite Music App

It’s like browsing a vinyl record collection without the dust and scratches

Key Takeaways

  • Albums is an iPad and iPhone music-playing app that focuses on albums.
  • The app turns liner notes and credits into browsable links. 
  • Fantastic widgets bring your music to your home screen.
Over the shoulder view of someone holding a vinyl record.

Skylar Sahakian / Unsplash

If you miss getting lost for hours in your music, you’re going to love Albums. 

Albums is an iPhone and iPad app that takes your music seriously. At first glance, you’ll see a nice grid of album covers, and you can tap one to play it and see the track listing. But then you notice the info panel, hidden behind an innocent-looking ⓘ (information) button. Tap this, and you’ll fall into a rabbit hole of music. It’s like being back at the record store, only without the twitchy DJs and the condescending staff. 

"The simplest aim of Albums is to provide an option for music listeners who listen to music as full albums, rather than the singles on curated or algorithmically generated playlists that the big music apps push," Albums creator Adam Linder told Lifewire in an email interview.

"Everything else in Albums builds on top of that. I’m a huge music lover, and with Albums, I’m really just making an app that fits and enriches the way I like to listen to and manage my music."

It’s All About the Browsing

A central feature of Albums is the credits section, accessed via the ⓘ button. This shows a list of credit, from the artist, through the label, participating musicians, producers, engineers, and pretty much anything else you can think of. Alone, that’s just a dull list of names. But you can tap on those names to browse further. 

A screenshot from the Albums app.

For instance, say I’m listening to Talking Heads’ seminal album Remain in Light. In the credits, I see that Adrian Belew played guitar (he’s the one that makes the animal noises on the album). I tap his name and see a grid of all the other albums he contributed to in my library.

That’s too easy. Let’s go back, and try again. How about Greg Calbi, who mastered the album? I’ve never heard of him before, but let’s see what he’s done. Tapping on his name shows an impressive resume. He’s credited on albums by Black Keys, Oneohtrix Point Never, Throwing Muses, Harry Nilssen, and more. And that’s just from my library. 

Albums also hooks into your Apple Music library if you subscribe, so you can really go super deep. 

"There are many different Albums features—production credits, listening statistics, tagging and filtering, and subscribing to upcoming releases—and everyone seems to have a different favorite. My favorite thing to hear from people is that Albums has gotten them to listen to more music!"

Multiple screenshots from the Albums app.

Albums

Widgets

There is a whole lot more inside Albums, and it's built-in a way that doesn’t spoil the simplicity of the app. But one other feature I’d like to look at is the widgets. 

As expected, you can display a nice big Now Playing widget, which is especially great in iPadOS 15. But you can also add widgets for your various album collections, either pre-built or your own custom collections.

This can be as simple as a static collection, or you can get fancy. I like the New Releases collection, which shows new albums from your favorite artists, but you can also choose options like New and Unheard, Recent Favorites, Random, Today in History, and more. 

Finally, there’s a widget that offers Quick Actions, with one-tap access to many options. 

But there’s also a lot more, and Linder is adding new features and squashing bugs all the time.

"My personal favorite feature in the new version is Cloud Queue," says Linder, "being able to change devices and pick up listening right where you left off."

More Music

With Albums, I listen to more music than I did. Or rather, I really listen to it, rather than just play it in the background. In that way, it really is like having your vinyl collection, when you might spend a few hours with your record player and your stack of albums. Back then, listening to music was an activity on its own, not just a soundtrack to browsing Instagram and Twitter. 

Albums is a subscription-based app with an option to buy a one-off lifetime license. There’s also a free trial.

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