MusicPod is a new music, podcast and radio player for Ubuntu

MusicPod is a new music, podcast and radio player for Ubuntu

A new multi-functional music, radio and podcast player is under development for Ubuntu, called MusicPod.

Bar MusicPod is not an “official” Ubuntu app, but exists under the umbrella of the Ubuntu Flutter Community, which maintains the cool Flutter-based software app I previewed last summer (which Ubuntu may use in a future release).

As you might have guessed, MusicPod built with Flutter, Ubuntu’s preferred application framework. Flutter’s “Yaru” design elements mean that the app looks similar to the GTK theme of the same name, but without being an actual GTK app.

So what can you do?

MusicPod Flutter app

MusicPod 1.0 – sound library

MusicPod can play local audio files from any set directory. Your library will appear as a scrollable list. The list can be sorted by artist, album, track name or track number. There’s a built-in search bar to help you find specific tracks faster (and if you’re looking for an album, you can access the album view).

While playing, you get standard playback controls (and there’s also an MPRIS controller to control when you’re not actively looking at the app); there are also controls for shuffle, repeat and like options; share (only works in podcasts); and the app allows you to create and manage playlists.

You can also use MusicPod to search, browse, download and play podcasts from an online source.

I’ve looked through the source code to see which podcast backend MusicPod uses to check the contents of the library, but I can’t. It displays the latest “Top 10” podcasts list with filters that can be sorted by genre, country and more.

MusicPod lets you browse podcasts

Last but not least, MusicPod allows you to search and search streaming internet radio stations. Currently this is limited to German internet radio stations, but presumably it will expand to cover the same stations that similar apps like Shortwave as the app gets closer to official release.

The MusicPod user interface varies depending on the size

First impressions count and MusicPod does great. Although additional design refinements are needed (such as finding a less lonely place in the Settings button and hides the sidebar at the narrowest widths) the bones of a good app are already there.

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The playback bar at the bottom of the window is especially nice (other music apps put the playback controls at the top). I also like the sidebar MusicPod it appears on the right when the window is full size (but I wish it would appear in a smaller viewport).

If you’re using your laptop or PC as a music hub while doing something else, there’s a ‘full screen’ mode which takes the aforementioned sidebar and stretches it to fill the screen – ideal for ‘party mode’ action.

Not ready for the big time (yet)

The album cover is missing

Here’s the catch MusicPod is under active development. And even though it’s available on Canonical’s Snap Store “stable” channel, it’s not quite ready to be your everyday music player, podcast app, or radio client.

Just now, MusicPod does not “remember” settings (e.g. music library, favorite tracks, playlists, window size) between sessions; (for me) it doesn’t display the album art .mp3 files only .m4a but on the contrary, he will only play .mp3 files, nothing else. Radio and podcast streams don’t work, and thumbnail capture isn’t good.

I also found that the music does not play when I double click on a track in the library. To actually start playback, I had to either drag the progress check on the slider a bit, or hit the “play” button in the header of the library view. Once played it works fine and transitions nicely to the next tracks in sequence (or shuffle).

But these are bugs that will be fixed, and some of them are easy to handle/work around in the meantime.

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I find the performance of Flutter apps (at least on my Ubuntu installations) to be less than ideal. It’s not terrible, but there is a perceived slowness when interacting with the UI that you don’t find in traditional native toolkits like GTK. This may be related to this bug which is expected to be fixed – just an FYI YMMV LOL OOTB.

In summary, MusicPod is a slick-looking Flutter app designed exclusively for Ubuntu desktops. Although it is not yet in line with the needs of daily use, it is promising to be heard as a main role in the future.

Install MusicPod

The source code for MusicPod is up on GitHub, but the easiest way to try it out is with the latest release from the Snap Store. This should theoretically support any Ubuntu version (and any Linux distro) that supports Snaps.

Keep in mind that the app is relatively new, and as mentioned above, there are quirks, bugs, and missing features. But since Snaps are (relatively) sandboxed from other parts of the system, you can try them out without too much trouble. Plus, you get new versions of the app automatically in the background.

Share what you think about it in the comments!

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