One of the shortcomings of Android is its media player. Sure, it’s adequate — but it is clearly lacking, compared to the iOS media player. Now that people use smartphones for all kinds of purposes, including listening to music, the absence of a mindblowing media player is such a tragedy. Winamp for Android could be the missing piece in the puzzle.
The legendary media player from the desktop is now available for Android powered mobile devices. Read on to know how awesome it turns out to be.
Winamp is compatible with mobile devices running Android 2.1 and above. The app is available for free and the companion desktop app (allowing Wireless Sync and more) is available free of cost too.
Interface and Usability
The app launches to an intro title that says something about kicking a llama’s posterior! A welcome screen with pointers indicating and explaining controls is a nice touch. After getting past that screen we have the Main Screen. The app has a dark theme that reminds me of the desktop version’s default theme. The play control buttons are big, and should make people with big fingers happy.
As soon as you tap the Album or Artist view, the app scans the SD card and loads all the music in the form you have requested. In case of the Artist view, all names recognized by Winamp are listed along with the number of albums they appear in the collection available in the SD card.
Selecting an artist lists all of their works, and there is an option to skip the Artist view and view all songs available in the library. There isn’t anything revolutionary in the way the songs are listed, but it works. The duration of each song is displayed alongside its title. A nice touch is that we can see the thumbnail view of the albums’ artworks in this list.
All albums are accompanied by their album art, as they should be. Songs from the album are listed once an album is selected. The real surprise lies in the landscape mode. Once you tilt the device to the landscape mode, you get a marker and few more controls. It’s such a delight to use the marker and scroll through albums in the alphabetical order.
The marker is a bit pudgy but is extremely functional. In addition to the existing play controls, options to Shuffle and Repeat the playlist show up at the bottom of the screen.
When a song starts playing, it’s good to see the album art right at the center of the player. However, there are too many icons and controls, making the screen cluttered.
On the other hand, the ability to fetch artist information from the Internet is cool. Tap on the detail you wish to see and the discography data is displayed from Aol Music. It would have been fantastic… if the details weren’t shown in the web browser. At least the music does not stop playing. Press and hold on the song info to interact with other apps like Pandora, YouTube and the Amazon MP3 Store.
Play queues are a great addition and work as advertised on the mobile. The play queue is a temporary track listing that you can easily select and sort. And, if you like, save it as a playlist or just dump it.
Features like playlist shortcuts and the Player widget for the Android home screen make Winamp a compelling media player. You can control music playback control even from the lock-screen.
Winamp comes with a comprehensive search feature. If you have a lot of music and find it irritating to scroll through a long list to find the song you are looking for, you are in for a treat! The search icon on the main screen brings up a search box and songs will start showing up as soon as you start typing. I found the search to be blazing fast.
That’s not all that Winamp does; it lets you stream music from the Internet. Thanks to their famous SHOUTcast service, you can now extend your listening experience beyond your SD card. There over 40,000 Internet radio stations to choose from, spanning all genres known to mankind!
And then there is the support for Scrobbling. If you have the Last.fm app installed, you can capture all of your mobile listening history in real time. Sweet!
For an app that is still in beta, Winamp’s performance is rock solid. It launches pretty quickly and did not crash even once while I was testing. Oh! Did I mention about that awesome wireless sync feature? If you have a Winamp player installed on your desktop, you can sync songs and iTunes playlists without the need for a USB cable.
As a sidenote, Winamp for Android could really use a UI refresh. The app has a ton of features but the interface does not do them any justice. It’s not that the user interface is ugly; it is quite standard looking — and therein lies the problem.
Winamp lacks the bells and whistles that the iOS media player has. Given that it is an app that plays music to help soothe our souls, the UI is so uninspiring. Except for that one complaint, Winamp exceeds all expectations, and if you’re an Android audiophile, it will really rock your world.