Joe Johnston on Universal Mind’s Revolutionary Music App
Jimi Hendrix is an American music legend. The infamous guitarist of the 1960s is remembered by his iconic bandana-wearing, electric-guitar playing photos and by his popular songs, such as “Bold As Love.” But now, Hendrix fans can experience Jimi in a new (we’d even go so far to say revolutionary) way, thanks to the app Jimi Hendrix: The Complete Experience by digital-solutions agency Universal Mind.
The Recapp caught up with Universal Mind’s Senior User-Experience Specialist, Joe Johnston, to talk about this new music-exploration app genre. Johnston shares insight on the potential of these so-called “appumentaries,” the Jimi Hendrix app’s development process and even his favorite Hendrix song.
- How would you describe the ways a user can experience Jimi Hendrix like never before with this app?
In this app, like a digital coffee-table book on steroids, the user is able to navigate through Jimi's life story on their own terms while discovering lots of Hendrix history and content—videos, photos and, of course, music.
- What’s your favorite feature in the app that allows you to experience Jimi Hendrix in a new way?
One of the unique features is the “10-foot Viewing Experience” based on AirPlay in iOS 5. This creates a multiscreen environment, which enables the app to run on multiple devices concurrently. By utilizing AirPlay with Apple TV, Hendrix fans can continue to enjoy the Jimi Hendrix app while simultaneously enjoying a collection of Hendrix songs and photos on their TV.
Another cool feature is the app alerts you receive when you are geographically near a historic Jimi Hendrix location. It provides you with details on the location and lets you share your experience within your social networks.
- Does Universal Mind think more musical artists will engage with digital tools such as apps to connect with their fan base? Why or why not?
We do. Our Executive Director of User Experience at Universal Mind wrote a blog post on what we're now calling the "Appumentary," addressing this very subject. We think digital downloads on their own are flat and emotionless. But incorporating them into a rich experience like a digital publication allows artists to have more than just a transactional relationship with their fans.
We are already in discussions with other artists to create an app based upon our Digital Experience Framework, which we used to create the Jimi Hendrix app.
- Did you learn anything unexpected about the app-development process in general, the app’s target users or yourself as an app developer?
We had integrated a lot of analytics into the Jimi Hendrix Experience app, allowing us to get great insight into how people were using it. For example, we learned that in this new digital-publication medium, because it's very graphical, users thought every object on a page was interactive, so we needed to specify more clearly which objects were ones that you can interact with.
- What’s your favorite Jimi Hendrix song and why?
Red House—great live recordings and fun to play.
What app developer inspires your work, or do you have a go-to online resource for development help and ideas?
Well of course we have a pretty inspiring team of developers in-house! But outside Universal Mind, Mike Matas is a big inspiration with his work on Push Pop Press creating the Our Choice app.
Apps I Love
Hollywood’s Heartthrob Turns App Investor
Photo credit: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images
Leonardo DiCaprio has been one of Hollywood’s biggest heartthrobs since his performance in Titanic, and he has preserved his reputation as a worthy actor with other hit films such as Inception, The Departed and Catch Me If You Can. But DiCaprio is switching gears from show business—whether it be for a side gig or a change in career—by investing $4 million in the app Mobli.
Going off of the tagline, "See the world through other people’s eyes," Mobli is a social network where users can share photos and videos, and the app automatically tags each post with a location or major event in the surrounding area. Users can also follow channels that display photos about a particular topic, such as Leo himself.
Mobli CEO Moshe Hogeg told The Huffington Post in October 2011 that Leo’s not much of a tech guy, but he is very excited to be involved in the marketing aspect of the app. “He believes in the vision of the company and thinks that this is the future of media. He wanted to get on board in the beginning, influence it, and give his input into the company.”