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Muziic brings free on-demand music to iPhone

Because it relies on YouTube, there are some gaps in content, but this is basically the first free on-demand music app for the iPhone, making it a great value.

I first wrote about Muziic, the YouTube-searching music streaming application created by teenage developer David Nelson, last March. Since then, he's updated the app with radio and MP3 playback and survived a squabble with online music video distributor Vevo.

Muziic's free iPhone app had no problem finding the new version of "Stone Free" from Jimi Hendrix's "Valleys of Neptune" album, released earlier this month. Screenshot

On Friday, Muziic took another big step with the release of its free iPhone app. It's the first free app that lets users search for and play songs on demand on their iPhones. Like the desktop app, Muziic for iPhone gets around content owners' licensing restrictions by taking content from YouTube, which already has a deal with Apple to power online video on the iPhone. So basically, it's just a music-focused YouTube search app with a few extra capabilities, like the ability to compile your searches into playlists and search for "albums" (which are actually lists of single tracks compiled together into a special type of search result). You can also buy songs from iTunes and post notifications about the song you're currently playing to your Twitter account.

Because Muziic gets all its content from YouTube, there are some gaps--when I tried to search for Steely Dan's "Only A Fool Would Say That," I got a bunch of (bad) cover versions, but not the original--and there a lot of searches that return only poorly recorded live versions. You have to tailor your search pretty narrowly, or you might get a bunch of irrelevant results like video interviews. Also, the search function has an annoying habit of erasing your query if you hit "Done" instead of "Go," as I often do when I finish typing a search. I found that the best way to use the app is to spend a few minutes doing a bunch of searches and making sure that the results are relevant, then compile all of them into a playlist, so you can have uninterrupted listening. I also found performance to be adequate over AT&T's 3G network--it took longer for songs to load, but I didn't notice any stutters or dropouts--but for best results you really want to do this over a Wi-Fi connection.

But hey, it's free music on demand. You have nothing to lose by downloading this app.