TuneWiki: Stream song lyrics from Windows Media Player

TuneWiki's Windows Media Player plug-in is part licensed lyrics spooler for your own songs and for streaming YouTube videos, and part social project.

TuneWiki for Windows Media Player

TuneWiki is one of the most ambitious social music projects we've seen. It is part licensed lyrics spooler for your own songs and for streaming YouTube videos, and part network--you can see where else in the world other TuneWiki users are playing your track. What began as an Android app created for Google's Android Developer Challenge (and finished as one of 10 winners) grew into a Web site and is, as of Monday, a Windows Media Player plug-in.

TuneWiki for Windows Media Player has a few flubs and flaws, but on average, the lyrics and music maps add the utility and interest to make the free application a helpful addition to Windows Media Player.

Those familiar with TuneWiki's Web site will see the similarities right away. TuneWiki's interface reskins Windows Media Player's 'Now Playing' window. The top half of the screen displays either a music map of where else in the world songs are playing, a YouTube video, album art, or top songs nearby, depending on if you're playing a song from your library, watching a YouTube video through TuneWiki, or browsing the map.

The bottom half of the screen, below the ad space, is where you'll see the available lyrics stream, plus commands to translate into other languages, help TuneWiki resync the song, and expose the scroll bar for manual lyrics perusal.

The unskinned Windows Media Player playlist forms the right side bar unless you banish it. We suggest you don't--you may have a harder time queuing songs if you do.

TuneWiki for Windows Media Player (Credit: CNET/Screenshot by Jessica Dolcourt)

TuneWiki has its share of rough edges. Some tools aren't immediately intuitive, like the resyncing button. Instead of clicking it to have the song resync itself, you click it, then click each line of the song as it plays to help TuneWiki time the lyrics more accurately. Unless you're an approved editor, your version of the time-synced lyrics will be stored locally, but may not make it into TuneWiki's larger database.

Also not obvious is the fact that only approved editors can edit existing lyrics. A text notice on the editor-only area would wipe away potential confusion and frustration. Anyone, however, can add lyrics to TuneWiki's wiki if there aren't any to begin with. (You can apply to be an editor at forums.tunewiki.com. TuneWiki currently tallies abut 1,500 editors.)

Some other issues we encountered were performance-based or preference-related. We'd like the size of the YouTube video to be adjustable, for instance. If the YouTube video stops, as it did once during testing, we want to refresh it without closing and reopening the app. When searching for songs, we'd like a more elegant display of the artist and album information returned in the results. TuneWiki's plug-in is good enough to use on its own, but in a few iterations from now, after a scrub-up, it should be even more promising.

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