Designing a mobile music app for iOS

Earfull is an activity-based mobile music app for iOS. The users choose music based on what they are doing and where they are at a given time. The design audience is mainly people 16 - 25 years old. I worked on this project as part of my studies in UI Design at the Design Lab in collaboration with my assigned mentor.

Project details

Duration: 3 months (March 2021 - May 2021)
My role: UX/UI Designer


Competitive benchmarking

I started by gaining more understanding about the design problem via market research and topic research. I focused on top music iOS apps like Spotify, Youtube Music, Tidal, and Apple Music to better understand what is currently being provided and how in the respective problem space.

Competitive benchmarking
Competitive benchmarking - Top music apps

Common patterns and findings

  • The search function for users to find songs or playlists is not always readily available.
  • A common pattern followed by all the apps is putting the "recently used" (personalized) playlists category first.
  • The tab menu offers four to five tabs to ensure clarity and simplicity.
  • Not all the apps offer visibility of system status regarding the song playing while the user is navigating the app at the same time.


Mind map (with POV and HMW statements)

I proceeded to the ideation step by creating a mind map focusing on what a music app is in general and how it usually serves its users. I highlighted the words that kept coming back in every version of the map and that made the concept clear; It would specifically be an activity and place-based app as music apps are almost always connected with where a person is and/or what they are doing.

After the concept became clear, I moved on to composing a POV statement because an actionable problem statement would better present the design challenge at hand. Based on the POV statement, I continued with some HMW statements that offered me more specific questions to consider.

Finally, my next step was to ideate the app's name and do some sketches to get a sense of what the logo could look like.

Earfull – Music whatever you do,
wherever you are
Ideating with a mind map and defining the challenge
Ideating on the app's name and sketching logo ideas


IA - Sitemap

The ideation phase brought up the need for me to organize my ideas and set up a content hierarchy for the new mobile music app. This was a pre-wireframe overview of how the app could be structured.


After deciding on the IA foundations of the app, I started sketching the basic screens. I collected my research and ideation phase findings and poured them into my sketches.

Sketching the first screens for the new app

Mood board and Style tile

Following my sketches, I wrote down some words I considered relevant to the app I am trying to design; The most prominent being "casual, personal, friendly, fun, cool, warm, sharp, clean, accommodating." With these in mind, I collected some images on designspiration and dribbble and created a mood board to visualize the look and feel of the app. Based on the mood board, I create a provisional style tile with the prospective app colors, fonts, inspiration images, and descriptive adjectives for it.

Creating a mood board to visualize the look and feel of the app
Creating a style tile based on the mood board

Logo Design

After deciding on the look and feel of the app, I proceeded to experiment with the logo. I tried many different colors, gradients, and combinations focusing on the ones that would stand out on an iPhone screen with many apps next to each other. I also added greyscales and different variations based on light and dark backgrounds.

Experimenting with the logo
Finalizing the logo


Following the detailed sketches I previously had done, I created wireframes with explorations on sections and pages, according to a content-first approach.

Home: Playlists available by categories relevant to the user. The floating button gives them the options to create a new playlist and/or add a new song.
Playlist: The users can download the playlist online and offline. When they scroll up or down, the cover shrinks and main functions (shuffle, play, repeat) move to the top.
Music player: When tapping on a song, a full screen modal appears showing a progress bar and the main functions (back, play, forward). Actions like share, like, more options, and repeat are also available. At the bottom, a bottom sheet includes the minimised playlist showing the next song.
Minimising song/full screen modal: When closing the full screen modal, a minimised sticky player of the song remains at the bottom with the options to pause or close it.
Search (tab): Searching from the tab menu gives the user the opportunity to search all the apps contents and also suggests new playlists based on their previous choices.
Me/My profile (tab): Options to change profile picture, edit profile, subscription, manage audio settings, find help, manage notifications, and log out.

Final Designs

Taking into account the iOS human interface guidelines in combination with previous explorations, I proposed the designs below. These are the main screens (Splash screen, Home, Playlist, Music Player, Discover, My Profile).

Splash Screen
Home Tab
Playlist – Internal Screen
Music Player – Current Song
Discover Tab
My Profile Tab

Onboarding process

After defining the main screens, I proceeded to create the onboarding process for new users. I included a screen where the users can choose their favourite activities and places in order to provide them with a more personalised experience in the app.

Design system

In order to create the Earful app, I set up the basis of a design system. This helps me maintain consistency while designing and it is a great way for communicating with others (developers, designers, etc.)


This project offered me an opportunity to learn more ideation methods and sharpen my visual design skills. It also was revealing of the complexity and vast amount of information a music app includes and the considerations a designer needs to take into account.

The whole process - from research to ideation to mood board, style tiles, and final designs was both delightful and a great learning experience for me.

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