If you search the App Store using the terms Free Music Download, you’ll discover tons of suspicious looking apps all with similar names, whose interfaces all look the same, and which promise free music downloads. What really caught my eye about these apps was that 3 of them are currently in the iTunes top 200 App Store downloads. Is this a case of App Store chart manipulation, or is there something else going on here? I downloaded one to find out.
Free Music Download Pro
Art of the iPhone’s Rating:
★★★★★ (2 stars out of 5)
Review Summary: The app works as described, you can download, store, and playback music offline found on the web, but the interface is crude and generic. It’s likely this app is popular due to use with Mp3Skull.com. A drawback is that music files can’t be directly added to the iPhone’s default Music app, but you can download the files to your computer and add them to iTunes later.
Free Music Download Pro – Downloader and Player ($0.99) is from developer Byungsook Oh, maker of other fine apps like Free Video Download Pro and Download All Pro. This app, along with most of the others, is just a boilerplate iOS web browser tweaked to let you download and playback music files, with a few other features thrown in to boot. The interface is as generic as iPhone apps come. But Free Music Download Pro does indeed work in the sense that you can download free music files from websites, store them on the iPhone, and play them back in the app. The app even supplies the ability to build playlists. It’s generic and ugly but functional. Why so popular then? Likely because people are using the app to illegally download popular copyrighted music.
Now, the app in no way shows you where to find illegal music files; in fact, it points you to legal music download sites. Its start screen supplies you with a list of several, including Jamendo and Audio Archive. But another website not mentioned in the app itself (because it would get the app banned) but suggested by several App Store reviewers is Mp3Skull.com. If you go to that website using this app, you’ll quickly see why this app and others like it are so popular.
Yes, this app can be a functional way to download, store, and play free music on the iPhone, but there is a catch. Music files that you downloaded can’t be added to the iPhone’s Music app, at least not directly. You can, however, connect your iPhone to a computer and download them to add to iTunes (and thus back onto your iPhone) later, or you can move then into Dropbox using the app.
LTE and the iPhone 5. With the faster download speeds that LTE brings to the iPhone 5, you’ll likely see a growth in these types of apps, as downloading music files only takes seconds. You can quickly build up an impressive playlist in a few minutes. This would have been an annoying chore on 3G just a few months ago.
Tip: How to Download the Music Files From the iPhone to Your Computer. You can pull the downloaded music files off the iPhone and put them back into Music app. You need to do it through iTunes on your computer. Here’s how. Plug your iPhone into your computer, launch iTunes, click on your iPhone in the sidebar, click the Apps tab, scroll down to File Sharing, click on Free Music Download Pro, and download away. Add them back into iTunes, then sync them back onto your iPhone, where they’ll appear in the Music app.
The growing popularity of apps like Free Music Download Pro ($0.99) is likely because of two reasons. First, the apps let you download, store, and playback popular music to the iPhone, and people are likely using these apps for illegal downloading of popular music through sites like mp3skull.com. Second, LTE on the iPhone 5 is the enabler, making the downloading of music superquick and reliable. All I can say is, Free Music Download Pro does indeed wor, but just don’t expect a user friendly experience.
Also, do not download copyrighted music illegally.