App Idea

Someone (not me) should develop a little application for Mac OS X that sees what song you’re playing in iTunes, grabs the lyrics of the song from an online database (this type of database is already online), and then (intelligently? somehow?) grabs a piece of those lyrics and sets your iChat status to that lyric snippet.

It would be so much more interesting than just showing the currently-playing song, which iTunes already does.

My only request is that the lyric snippet that it grabs not be too long. It would have to look for a shorter snippet, and assume that linebreaks and paragraphs gave significant hints to the phrasing of the song.

13 thoughts on “App Idea

  1. Its too busy, takes too much CPU power, and requires too much work to know at what point in the song the listener currently is. I guess I’m a big fan of simplicity in an app, rather than showing off.

  2. Word. That feature is so slick. It is the little innovations that make me happy I own an Apple. It’s the little things, after all, that compose happiness.

    Now all we need is the little bouncing ball…

  3. Oh, I’ve got no shortage of good ideas. I’ve just got shortage of time to work them out and make them happen. I’d rather someone else do it.

    Plus, if someone makes it and claims the idea, I’ve got a timestamped entry and timestamped comments (thus, witnesses) to show that the idea was mine first. Ta da!

  4. Sorry Josh, I did not read your post that closely. You only want a snippet and that needs to be placed as the iChat status. With this widget that I found, maybe your thought will be easier to make a reality.

  5. Well, I figure a new sentence arrives in a song every 2-5 seconds, so in CPU time that’s nothing. iChat raises events (polling AIM, for example) thousands of times more frequently than that. Also, iTunes actually knows where it is in any playing song – it’s called “elapsed time.”

  6. I understand that we can see how far along iTunes is in playing the song. The trouble is that lyrics aren’t evenly spaced, word-for-word, throughout the song. So someone (again, not me!) would need to write some kind of lyrics-to-timecode thing so we’d always know which lyrics were being sung at that point in the song. If that’s already been done, then the idea gets a lot more realistic. If it hasn’t been done, I don’t think it’s feasible without some kind of automated speech recognition, which is way beyond the scope of the 1.0 idea I’m proposing here. Maybe that would be a 2.0 or 3.0 feature.

    At the same time, even if it could scroll the lyrics as they were being sung, I don’t think I’d turn that on for my iChat status. I’d prefer that the iChat status give a feeling of “name that tune”, where the friends of the person who is listening to the song have to look at the lyric and try to figure out what song it is. That’s more fun, I think.

    I was talking with Robb earlier today, and we came up with the idea of a screensaver based off this general idea. I’m actually slightly more excited about the screensaver than the iChat stuff. The screensaver would work like this:

    1) Grab a collection of song titles and artists from your iTunes library. It could be set in preferences to grab your most recently-played tracks, or a random sampling of a certain number, or a certain genre, etc. Whatever.
    2) Get all the lyrics to that group of songs. Download them from this database that apparently exists somewhere
    3) Create “snippets” from those lyrics in the way we’ve already discussed above.
    4) Create some kind of visually appealing “fly-through” effect where the viewer is flying through a cloud of lyric snippets, and the lyrics are all drifting on the screen independently of each other. And you can just sit there and watch them go by and test your knowledge of the lyrics in the songs in your own library. It shouldn’t be interactive (not in v1.0 anyhow :-).

    I really like that screensaver idea.

    The final idea, which is a combination of Matt’s and Dave’s, is to make a “lyrics visualizer” in iTunes that would have a bouncy ball moving along in time with the lyrics. That would definitely be cool and not too busy or CPU intensive, considering that it’s a visualizer, and that’s what they’re supposed to be.

  7. I think some nice XML lyrics schema is in order for matching song timestamps to noteworthy lyrics in the song. This data could be folded into songfile metadata.

  8. Oh! Karaoke! When you sing Karaoke, they make the words turn yellow in time to the music. I wonder if it would be possible to somehow buy a large set of Karaoke, and convert those timecodes that already exist into the XML you’re thinking of, Dave.

    Then, for songs that weren’t already in the database, we could create a utility that would make it as easy as possible to contribute lyrics and lyric timing to a centralized database, where other users could (automatically?) download updated XML.

    Dude, this is really getting interesting.

  9. This doesn’t seem too hard to accomplish… JL, ping me sometime next week (if you are still reading comments back this far), and I’ll look into it.

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