The idea of using your iPhone as both karaoke screen and microphone is pretty genius, I must admit. Especially considering karaoke machines aren’t the cheapest things to rent. Applause Karaoke, designed by MEA Mobile, definitely has the right idea but misses the mark for me in a few places.
The app opens immediately to your iTunes library, where you can search by Playlists, Artists, Songs or Albums and add songs to your karaoke collection. Tap Done, choose your song, and it’s playing in the app. You can navigate around while the song is playing at the bottom by selecting Songs to browse for more, Lyrics, Microphone and Controls. Despite the Microphone icon, the mic is actually on as soon as you open the app and stays on while you search. In Controls, you can control the volume of the track.
As for lyrics, it’s a little bit more of a hassle. Understandably, you must first have the lyrics in your iTunes library, which you can do by clicking on the song, selecting “Get Info,” choosing Lyrics and pasting the lyrics into the box. After that you need to sync your iPhone, of course. But even after that, if you want to see lyrics while in the app, you must first go into your music library, start the song, exit, then open the app (which stops the song), then choose the song again from within the app and restart it. If you go straight to the song within the app, there will be no lyrics.
The mic works fairly well, and while you can’t adjust mic volume you can adjust the volume of the track. An inherent problem with iPhone karaoke is that in order to read the lyrics you have to hold the screen far enough away to read, which puts the mic out of range. Also, when I exit the app then re-enter, my songs are erased, which (according to the Info menu) is because “the song files on your device may change when you sync with iTunes.” Very true, but it would be nice to have a karaoke playlist within the app, because let’s face it – we all have our favorite karaoke songs we know we can rock.
You can use this app with headphones for a little self-karaoke, or plug it in to a stereo for a karaoke party. It’s definitely a lot of fun, but I think that in order to really be a viable alternative to an actual karaoke machine, it would help if there were a way to display the lyrics on a separate screen. Fumbling to get the lyrics up and running, then trying to read them while holding the phone close to your mouth just doesn’t quite make it worth the $2.99. But for your own personal karaoke time, it’s not a bad app.
Applause Karaoke requires iPhone OS 3.0 or later and is compatible with iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. A small expedite fee was paid by the developer in order to speed up the publication of this review.