Is there any value in an app that allows friends to connect their cell phones together like it were one giant speaker in the sky?
Well, if you're between the ages of 18 and 24 and are generally predisposed to hanging out in groups while listening to music the answer is probably a resounding "Yes", providing much-needed fuel to music-syncing app AmpMe out of Montreal, Canada.
Sure, there are apps such as TuneMob, Speakerfry, and a few others that try to do this, but the one that has really caught the ear of music listeners in the last six months has been AmpMe's app which was downloaded some 2 million times since its launch in September last year. Now, it is hoping to attract even more fans by allowing its app to sync music from YouTube, something that wasn't possible before with any other similar service out there.
One of the chief reasons that AmpMe may have attracted this kind of attention is its ability to eschew Bluetooth as the connecting mechanism -- apparently other services can only connect three or four of them at the same time, only if they share the same platform, according to AmpMe CEO Martin-Luc Archambault. Also, Wi-Fi may initially appear to present itself as a good syncing solution but apparently not because of accessibility and bandwidth issues.
Instead, what AmpMe has engineered is the ability to transmit its proprietary, server-centric, stable, high-frequency audio pattern as a "fingerprint" to other phones as a syncing mechanism that has proven to be far more reliable and accurate than Bluetooth when it comes to lags. Also, you can sync across platforms, which means it doesn't matter if your friends have a combination of iPhones and Android ones, something that has stumped similar services in the past.
First, the app needs to be downloaded. You're then asked if you're the host or if you want to join the party. If you're hosting, you simply have to share the four-digit code that appears on your screen with your fellow music listeners. If you're not, simply punch in the code and you will be brought into the synchronised fold.
The YouTube integration has obviously been a big boost for the company -- it has attracted $8 million in venture financing just as it announced the integration. (The app previously only synced to SoundCloud.) It could also signal a major development for the company considering 40 percent of "new music usage" on the web and 4 percent of the industry's earnings comes from the online property.
So, how good is AmpMe's sound? There have been varying verdicts. This reviewer found it to work "flawlessly and quickly", and the quality of sound was apparently as if emanating from a Sonos system, which is pretty lofty praise. Others, while applauding the volume of sound, weren't too hot on the quality, especially the absence of good bass or low-to-mid ranges that even "mediocre" Bluetooth speakers possess, which I also found to be the case. However, AmpMe's Archambault pointed out that device speakers are getting so good that in five years Bluetooth speakers will become extinct allowing a service such as AmpMe to really shine.
Still, there's that not so inconsequential bit about how to make money which the company is still tinkering with -- in-app purchases and ads seem to be part of an emerging business model but observers have also pointed to the company licensing its potentially useful technology underpinning the app.
Till then, foraging frustratedly in the basement for your long-forgotten, portable 2-in-1 stereo (not to mention the missing power cord) to spark some life into your pool party may soon be a thing of the past if you're armed with AmpMe's app.