Make GIFs and jam to free radio with Myspace's new iOS app

Myspace is struggling to shed its image as the OG dinosaur of desktop social networks, first with a radical new design and now with a new iOS app that puts Myspace’s music cred front and center.

The new Myspace stream lets you view artists’ activity and listen to radio at the same time.

This isn’t Myspace’s first foray into mobile, but it is the company’s best attempt by far. The old Myspace iOS app wasn’t terrible, but it didn’t exactly stand out. Its stream and discovery tabs were visually similar to Twitter’s iPhone app.

The new app is a mobile representation of the desktop version’s design: heavy on the black and white with large, colorful images. It’s one of the better-looking social apps on the market. I tested a beta version of the app just before it debuted on Wednesday in the App Store, and I have to say: If Myspace keeps up the commitment to carving out its creative niche and continues to add mobile features like a GIF creator (!) and free radio, users might return.

“We started with the beta site, and our goal was to start to get people on the platform and interact with them,” said Ali Tahmasbi, Myspace’s vice president of product. “User testing and surveys we’ve been sending out have helped us form a strategy on how the mobile app should work.”

How it works

The navigation bar in the new Myspace iOS app.

I tested a beta version of the app that closely resembles the final product. Its functions don’t much deviate from the standard social networking features: Swipe to see the menu bar on the left side of the screen and toggle between your profile, stream (where you see your friends’ activity, similar to Facebook’s News Feed or Twitter’s timeline), notifications, and messages. The menu bar also lets you search for people or artists, or discover new people within a certain radius or find new radio stations to listen to.

When you sign up for the New Myspace, you can select what kind of profile you have: fan, musician, photographer, writer, etc. You can search for people by category (say, musicians who live within 10 miles of you) or by name (to find your friends).

Like Twitter, Myspace lets you follow people (or connect with them), which you can do easily on the app.

Mobile Myspace’s best feature: Music

Myspace was always the place for music—remember when artists would turn to Myspace to preview their albums? Well, the app is kind of like that, but better.

Myspace Radio is one of the app’s best features.

Myspace has a huge amount of music, and always has, but creating a centralized database for users to cherry-pick songs from was never a priority. The new Myspace makes it easy to find specific artists, albums, songs, or radio stations. You can listen to playlists curated by your favorite artists, or you can create a playlist yourself for others to listen to. The stations continue to play as you click around in the app, and even when you close it. There are no ads, and the music selection is fresher than what Pandora has on tap. The only downside is the limitation on song-skipping, but that’s to be expected.

Myspace Radio has flown under the radar as a desktop feature, but might emerge as a competitor to Pandora and other streaming start-ups.

One word: GIFs

Yahoo realized that animated GIFs rule the Internet, which is why—OK, maybe just a small part—the company purchased GIF-tastic Tumblr last month.

The Myspace app features a plus sign that hangs out at the bottom of the screen. That’s the content creation button. You can create a text update, post a photo, or make a GIF. It’ll be interesting to see what Myspace users make of the GIFs—the format can be a creative restriction, like Vine.

“I really feel users are going to get in there and define where this goes,” Tahmasbi said. “That creativity is going to help us see what the possibilities are.”

The Myspace iOS app and a mobile redesign debut Wednesday, with other mobile platforms in the works.

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