As Pono gears up for the launch of its HD music store, check out its (unreleased) desktop app

Neil Young’s music startup Pono is getting closer towards launching a full HD music store on the web as well as within a dedicated app for Windows and OS X that will synchronize music with the company’s music player. Pono launched a demo version of the store on its website earlier this week, and with a little effort, I was able to take a look at the Pono desktop app as well.

Pono's new website with a preview of its download store.

Pono’s new website with a preview of its download store.

[company]Pono[/company] had originally said that its music store would launch in October, but the storefront unveiled on its website this week is really just a preview. Users can browse albums and listen to excerpts of songs on the site, but they can’t actually buy anything, and none of the albums listed include any pricing information. On a separate news site, Pono announced that it will have music from all three major labels, and that its total catalog will exceed two million tracks.

Music downloads aren't enabled on Pono's site yet.

Music downloads aren’t enabled on Pono’s site yet.

Pono’s music downloads are powered by Omnifone, which also powers Sony’s Music Unlimited service and Rara.com, among others. However, little has been known about Pono’s desktop app, which the company needs to transfer music because Pono’s player doesn’t come with any wireless connectivity. There was a minor announcement in the past that Pono was working with JRiver on the app, and with a bit of searching around, I found out that Pono is simply using JRiver’s Media Center software, which is available for OS X and Windows. The app includes an integrated web browser, and in the version I saw, it simply accessed the Pono Music Store for music purchases.

pono app 1

The JRiver Media Center, which has been rebranded as the PonoMusic Hub, also supports playback from media within your home network as well as CD ripping and burning, and was even able to control my Sonos system. There are no indicators for music pricing in the app either, and all of the help and support entries simply link back to the JRiver website.

pono app 2

JRiver’s software has its fans, which tend to prefer the software over more mainstream media players like iTunes because it does offer them a lot more functionality. However, I have to say that Pono may have some work to do to make the app look a little more modern.

Pono’s key sales point is obviously its HD music, but from a technical perspective, the company’s hardware is already looking a little dated, given that it doesn’t offer any kind of wireless connectivity. Pairing this with an app that looks like it hasn’t changed much since 2001 doesn’t exactly help to make Pono look like something built to be sold in 2015.