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iPeng Now Playing screen

Figure 9: iPeng splash screen

I stumbled upon iPeng via Google and was glad that I did. I first, however, tried its predecessor, a Squeezecenter plugin for the ReadyNAS. But I soon abandoned the plugin, which just transmogrified the ReadyNAS SqueezeCenter web interface into an iPhone-friendly format. It was way too slow and limited in its features.

iPeng—the iPhone app—is entirely different. It's fast, easy and fun to use and worth every cent of the $9.99 it costs. iPeng is a labor of love by a guy (or gal) over in Berlin, who prefers to remain anonymous behind a penguin alter-ego, Coolio.

iPeng turns the iPhone or iPod Touch into a Wi-Fi connected touchscreen interface to SqueezeCenter that is very true to the iPhone interface design. It's hard to capture the iPeng / SqueezeBox experience in a few screenshots. So if the ones below leave you wanting more, there are plenty over at the Penguin Loves Music site. I'll run through some quick descriptions and get into how it all works in In Use.

Figure 10 is the Now Playing screen, which will be familar to iPhone/Touch users. Note that you can even turn SB power on and off and the currently-controlled SB name is shown at screen bottom-left.

iPeng Now Playing screen

Figure 10: iPeng Now Playing screen

The Now Playing screen actually has two other screens. Flicking left brings up a MultiPlayer control overlay (Figure 11), which allows you to sync multiple SBs or control them individually. Flicking right (not shown) brings up an overlay showing the current playlist, which is fully editable.

Now Playing with MultiPlayer Control

Figure 11: Now Playing with MultiPlayer Control

Touching the left arrow icon at the top left takes you back a screen. If you're playing something from your local library, you get a screen allowing selection of Artist and Album views of your local music library (but no "Cover Flow" mode). But if you are tuned to an Internet Radio station or service like Pandora, Slacker, etc. and depending on where in its menu tree you are, it can take a few left-arrows to get back to the point where you can make another selection.

Figure 12 shows the Radio screen, scrolled down to the online music services that SqueezeCenter and Squeezenetwork support. The upper part of this screen has a selection of Internet stations sorted into Staff Picks, Local, Music, Talk, Sports, World, SIRIUS Internet Radio, radioio, More Radio and Search. The Local selection is is pretty nifty in that it finds stations in your geographic area, apparently by figuring out where you are from your IP address.

Internet Radio and Music Services

Figure 12: Internet Radio and Music Services

Hopping over to the More screen (Figure 13) reveals a buffet of choices. Music Folder allows direct browsing of your locally-stored files. Favorites seems to show Pandora and Slacker favorites, but currently can't be edited or added to (or at least I couldn't figure out how to). Genres is a sort of your local library, Lists shows your Playlists and New Music shows your most recently-added tunes.

Podcasts provides access to Odeo and PostcastAlley Top 50 and 10 Newest. But a quick browse through them turned up a jumble of odd lesser-known 'casts. And without a search function, this feature is essentially unusable. Note that the podcasts are streamed, not downloaded.

More screen

Figure 13: More screen

The Settings screen (Figure 14) has only a few controls, each with its own short explanation. "Flush Cache", Add-a-server and Wake-on-LAN functions are located on the lower Settings screen.

Settings screen

Figure 14: Settings screen

The Help selection has some quick tips and a link that takes you to the online help at PenguinLovesMusic, thoughtfully formatted for iPhone/Touch viewing.

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