Breaking Down the Turntable.fm iPhone App

Turntable.fm, summer 2011's ultimate time-waster, is determined to have you lose hours and hours on the go. The website, which is like a combination of old-school Internet Relay Chat, Pandora and Spotify, launched its official iPhone app this week and we immediately wondered if the web experience would translate to the portable small screen.

The experience of being on Turntable.fm is very specific -- you play whatever you want from a massive library, but only one in five songs is the one you chose, with the others being selected by a rotating group of other “DJs.” It’s the chat room interface and this social aspect that makes it a bit more than just an Internet radio station. So how does it translate to the iPhone’s small screen? Here’s a breakdown of the site’s key features and how they work on your mobile device.

Song selection: You can’t upload songs from your iPhone’s iTunes library to Turntable, but if you have tracks that you already uploaded from your computer saved in your DJ queue, they’ll still be there when you look on your phone. Furthermore, the built-in library is pretty massive, so unless you’d planned to play officially-licensed Beatles or AC/DC songs, or your metal band’s demo, you'll do okay.

Avatars, the “Awesome / Lame” button, and bopping heads: One of the best features of Turntable.fm is that it’s got a game aspect to it -- when a DJ plays a song you like, you click “awesome,” and they get points they can use to upgrade to a fancy avatar wearing a bear-shaped onesie or whatever; when you think the song sucks, you click “lame,” and if enough people do that, the track gets skipped.  The app smartly places those buttons prominently at the bottom of the screen to preserve that aspect of the site.

Chat: A big part of what makes Turntable.fm such a time-suck is that it’s also a chat room, and those are never great for productivity. On the app, the chat is accessed by pushing a button on the top of the screen, meaning that you’d have to be pretty focused on participating in the conversation to lose a whole afternoon to it. Hopefully you don’t cause a car accident or walk into a pole while you’re chatting.

General bugginess: It wouldn’t be Turntable.fm -- which is still in beta -- if it weren’t a bit buggy. Load times when entering rooms can be slow, finding a room that has an open DJ slot can be a challenge, and sometimes it crashes unexpectedly. In other words, it translates the web experience of the site to the phone perfectly.

[Download the Turntable.fm app here.]


VMAs 2018