It’s a peculiar state of affairs when part of the attraction of a gadget with its feet set firmly in the digital age is how it mimics something old-fashioned and distinctively analogue. Air Vinyl’s a perfect example of this – an app that looks backwards rather than forwards and allows you to play back your digitally recorded iTunes library on a replica record deck, complete with turntable, balanced arm, stainless steel volume knob, and glowing red light. Pick track two from an album and the arm will even move across the vinyl and drop into the correct position. As fun as this is, it’s the cassette part of the app that concerns us here because that makes it possible to create a mixtape – a compilation of different tracks by different artists that can be put together for fun or to suit a specific occasion like a party or road trip. Here’s how it works.
Step 1: Main menu
Download and install Air Vinyl ($0.99) from the iTunes Store. When the app loads, it’ll display a top-down view of an old-fashioned turntable. Tap the button at the top right (it has the symbol for an atom on it) and then, when this menu appears, tap the MIXTAPES icon.
Step 2: Create new mixtape
Air Vinyl loads the cassette player part of the app. Since we haven’t created a tape yet there’s nothing in it so swipe the screen up to reveal an electronic shelf set against some fancy flock wallpaper where cassette tapes are stored. Tap the NEW MIXTAPE cassette box to create a brand new compilation.
Step 3: Finding tracks
Use the on-screen keyboard to type in a name for the mixtape and then click Done. At the next screen there’s a search box which allows you to filter the contents of your music library by Songs, Artists and Albums. Start typing in the name of a song and the app will begin listing suggestions immediately.
Step 4: Adding tracks
Found the first track? Just tap its name and then, when the dialogue box appears, tap the Add More button. If it’s easier, switch the filter at the top – here for example we want to add several tracks by the same singer so we’ve switched to the Artists filter. When all the tracks have been added, tap Done.
Step 5: Choosing a mixtape
The newly created cassette now appears on the shelf, next to the NEW MIXTAPE cassette which is always present. At first it’s not obvious how to play it (tap and hold was our first thought but that’s actually how you deleted unwanted mixtapes – though not the original tracks). To play the tape just double tap it.
Step 6: Playing the tape
The cassette loads into the player and starts immediately. Use the transport controls underneath to rewind and fast forward (the counter at the top right moves realistically in synch) and play or pause the tape. Tap the Eject button to remove the tape so you can play another one. Finally, tap the cassette player to see a track listing.