DSC_0055If a decade of “American Idol” has taught us anything, it’s that the ability to sing isn’t particularly widespread. We’ve all heard at least one person who thinks they have a strong singing voice but actually sounds like a barn owl recovering from a tracheotomy, but singing is one activity that most everyone loves to participate in regardless of skill level. There’s a reason why karaoke bars still exist, after all.

That’s what Syrp is hoping, anyway. The company has released Jukeboxer, an app where users engage in sing-offs (yes, apparently those do happen outside of musicals) with the idea that people want to sing their hearts out with friends and strangers. Jukeboxer is available on the iPhone as a free, ad-laden app replete with in-app purchases or as a 99-cent, ad-free “Pro” version.

Users are able to challenge their Facebook friends – or random users, if they don’t want to sonically assault people they know – and judge other users’ contests. 30-second vocal clips can be fed through a variety of filters, including “Chipmunk,” “Alien,” and “Low Voice,” and others available as in-app purchases. Once the vocals have been uploaded other users are able to judge the contest and determine who sings the best.

I decided to wade through Jukeboxer a bit and see what the app is like, and I was pleasantly surprised by what I found. While there are definitely a few low points, like the sheer number of horrible “Gangnam Style” covers awaiting judgment, they don’t detract too much from the total experience. There were a few contests that were hard to call, not because both participants sounded horrible, but because they had genuinely good voices.

A singing app is a big departure from Syrp’s previous venture, a Dropbox-powered camera and photo service called Cloud Photos. The Syrp team says that they won’t abandon Cloud Photos, and the app was recently updated to support the iPhone 5 and iOS 6, but that Jukeboxer is the main focus going forward.

For Syrp Jukeboxer is a bit of a playground of sorts, allowing the company to experiment with pricing structures and social apps. For users, Jukeboxer is clean, simple fun. The app isn’t for everyone, and the novelty of singing to (or against, really) a bunch of strangers or your Facebook friends may wear off, but for now it’s a nifty little app that offers a break from the mundane.