You’ll never watch a YouTube video using the Brownees app for iPhone ($1.99), even though YouTube is the only site accessible in the app. That’s because Browness is focused solely on audio. The app “rips” audio from YouTube videos and saves it on the iPhone for later offline playback. Why would you want to do this? For free music, of course.
It’s been a “free music” theme week here on Art of the iPhone (check out my reviews for the similar apps Free Music Download Pro and McTube Pro). Brownees is solely focused on collecting free music from YouTube, and it works as advertised, although it’s far from being perfect.
How It Works. To save a song for offline playback, you simply choose a song, and once it starts playing, you simply add it to your Favorites list. That’s it. Eazy peazy (although you have to make sure the “Offline playback” tab is set to On). Unfortunately, music stored on the iPhone must stay inside the app—it can’t be downloaded off the iPhone onto a computer or sent into another app.
Finding Music to Download. Brownees is great if you know the specific song or artist you’re looking for, but not so great if you want to discover new music. There is a Search tool for finding music on YouTube. There is also a somewhat mislabeled “News” tab that shows the top 50 music videos on YouTube, which can help discover new music. But other than that, there is no way to browse genres of music. There is no web browser, new artist section, etc.
A Basic Music Player. As a music player, the app is pretty basic. It has the requisite play, pause, etc, controls, and the ability to create playlists. The music controls do work outside of the app, meaning you can control the music from the iPhone’s lock screen and via headphone control dongles. I only mention this because in another similar app I recently reviewed (McTube Pro), the music controls did not work outside of the app.
Other Features. Brownees has Facebook integration that supposedly lets you share your Brownees playlists with friends, making it easier to find and download music, but I couldn’t it get to work. You don’t need a Facebook account to use the app, but you do need to either use Facebook or create a Brownees account. I was unable to find the reason or use for a Brownees account.
Cons *Updated*. I found the app to be buggy. There were times when various features stopped working, and I had to force close the app and restart it. Also, the app’s first language is apparently not English, and some translation from Spanish has occurred to put it in the US App Store. I know this because occasionally I’ll see a menu option in Spanish.
*Update* After more use, I’ve discovered many more serious bugs with this app (as of version 1.3 of the app). Deleted music does not, in fact, delete, and suddenly reappears in my music library. Saved music many times can’t be played until you use the force-quit the app (force quit is done by double clicking the home button, holding finger on app icon, tapping the red close button, then relaunching). Hopefully, the developers can squelch these bugs, because it’s hard to recommend this app for long-term use if these issues remain.
Like the other 2 “Free Music” apps I reviewed this week, I can recommend downloading Brownees because, hey, free music. But I also found the app sloppy, limited in functionality, and buggy. But in the end, it gets the job done. Again: free music…saved to the iPhone…for offline playback. What’s not to love?