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Music and Media

If you’re like me, you spend way too much time customizing your smartphone with launchers, widgets, wallpapers and icons. And why not? With custom interface elements, our phones look cooler than when we took them out of the box. But how about getting them to sound better too?

Enter Ringtonium Pro. It’s a well designed workspace to create ringtones with, whether it’s for calls, messages or Facebook notifications. The app isn’t just all about looks though, and comes with some clever controls for precise editing. But is it worth the money? Let’s find out.

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Music apps these days either play music or recognise music that’s already playing. One app in particular does both, and more.

musicXmatch finds the lyrics of whatever song you are currently listening to on your Android. It’s great if you are a death metal listener but can’t really understand the screams.

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For people who are not gifted singers, their affinity towards music may be limited to sound mixing or song writing. I’m not a strong singer, but I can write. With an app like Songify, that’s all you really need to do. You don’t even need to write down the lyrics, just recite them on the go and the app takes care of the rest. Find out how Songify can become your very own mobile recording studio.

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Once upon a time music sharing wasn’t even possible. Can you believe it? If you wanted to listen to an album a friend recommended you, you had to go to the music store and buy a vinyl disc . Of course, you could’ve went to his place and listen to it there, but if you wanted to listen to it yourself you had to buy it. Later, magnetic cassettes made everything easier. They were also quite fun, jamming and all that. And who doesn’t remember the good old pen rewind method?

Nowadays if you hear a track on your friends media player (smartphone or not) you can give a quick YouTube search for the band for more of its tracks and if you really like them, hop into iTunes, Amazon or any other online music store and download it. But this is not about that. This is about how we share what we listen to to our friends. Sure you can send a YouTube link via e-mail, IM, or posting it on your Facebook Timeline or Twitter Feed, but that would be time consuming. What if there where a site where every track you listen to gets saved for all the people to see? Well, there is.

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As an avid music fan, it’s important that I carry some tunes with me wherever I go – which should explain why I still tote around my 120GB iPod Classic. I’ve had music playback-capable phones for quite a while now, but none of them offered what you’d describe as a listening experience. With a smartphone however, it’s a completely different ball game. In a good way.

There are several options when it comes to music player apps for Android devices, including the fairly competent stock app. I’ve been more partial to Winamp though, mostly because I’m very familiar with the desktop version – and I thought that’d be the last music player I’d need to try. That’s when I discovered n7player. It’s slick, it’s well-designed, and it showcases your music collection elegantly. But is beauty only skin-deep? Let’s turn up the volume and find out.

n7player's Music Library (L - zoomed out, R - zoomed in)

n7player's Music Library (L - zoomed out, R - zoomed in)

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doubleTwist is definitely not a newcomer to the Android Market – we’ve reviewed it before – but it recently received an new set of features and UI that brings it up to ICS standard.

But will this be enough to let it compete with old favorites such as PlayerPro and UberMusic?

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Internet radio usage has been on the rise with apps like Pandora and TuneIn Radio. The reason these apps have become so popular is because people like listening to music that relates to a specific song or genre.

The major downfall with most of the applications out there is that the playlists are generated by an algorithm, rather than actual human beings. This method unfortunately lacks personalization and doesn’t quite feel as intimate as music should be. Wouldn’t it be much more attractive to have your playlists created by real music listeners?

This is where 8tracks comes in. The entire program is centred around DJs who make playlists based on a specific genre. As the title implies, these playlists have to be at least 8 tracks long. This is quite a different concept and definitely provides a greater sense of flow from one track to the next. No longer will you have to be disappointed by Pandora’s or Genius’s choices of songs.

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As phone screens get bigger and more content becomes available online, people aren’t just watching short YouTube videos on their handsets, but moving towards full two hour long movies.

Android has a fair share of video apps, but after testing them all, only one withstood almost all of the formats I threw at it: MoboPlayer.

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It has a been a good year for cloud storage, and music is no exception.

First, we saw the launch of Amazon Cloud Player, which gives you 5GB of cloud storage and lets you stream your music via a web browser or just about any smartphone. You can also purchase songs and have them stored for free in the cloud.

Earlier this year, we wondered whether Google was planning their own music store for Android. Details soon emerged that Google was at least looking at creating a music storage locker similar to Amazon Cloud Player. As expected, record labels seemed to be the anchor on the boat. Even as Google Music launched in beta and completely without the backing of the major labels, it was unclear how far things would go.

Now, Google Music is out of beta and open to the public. You can upload up to 20,000 songs to the cloud and stream them to your Android device or anything that has a web browser, including your home computer or laptop. Like most Google services, this all comes absolutely free. All you have to do is sign up and start uploading your tracks using Google’s Music Manager.

Besides opening the doors to the masses, there is one more thing: you can now actually buy music from Google. Music is available for purchase via the Android Music Store, now part of the Android Market on your mobile device or web browser. (more…)

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