Music has been a major part of my life. With every little walk I take, (which incidentally I track with RunKeeper), I listen to music on my phone.
However, I find it cumbersome to unlock the phone, long press the home button, select the player from the Recent Apps screen, and press the Skip button, just to move to the next track. There’s another way, though: today we’ll look at music players and widgets with lockscreens that make skipping tracks that little bit easier.
If you don’t like any of the players’ built lock-screen controls then you can install WidgetLocker and try out the players widgets as lock-screen controls.
doubleTwist Player (Free + $4.99 for AirSync)
doubleTwist was the very first third party music player I installed on my phone. The user interface is great and it could play almost every track I had. What caught my eye, though, were the lock-screen controls. The default music player doesn’t have this feature, and this made my day.
The only thing that I didn’t like is that you couldn’t unlock the screen directly. Once you hit the unlock button, you’re taken to the default lock-screen, rather than the home-screen. Annoying? Yes. Annoying enough to uninstall the application? No.
As far as I’m concerned this is my first love and we all know that you hardly forget your first love. I give it a score of 9/10. If it would unlock directly to home-screen, it would be perfect, but every app has its flaws.
PowerAMP ($4.99 or 15 day-trial)
PowerAMP is one of the best Android music players I’ve come across. It has a 10-band equalizer (for sound-nerds), bass and treble control (for newbies), which is great, but I hate its UI. It has far too many glows and quite frankly it hurts my eyes when I use it.
It does, however, make my Sony MDR-XB20EX ear-buds sound really deep and clear. If you know a thing or two about equalizers you can make your music sound clear on every channel: heart-stopping bass and clear high notes.
This isn’t a review of the application itself, but how it does in the lock-screen controls department. You can choose between two options: 4×2 small widget with a clock and a full screen widget. It also can unlock directly to the home-screen. I give this one a 8/10. I’m sorry, but all of those glows hurt my eyes.
MixZing Media Player (Free)
MixZing is another interesting player, with some sort of an iTunes genius feature. But that’s for another review! How does the lock screen stack up?
The UI is very neat and organized. It doesn’t unlock to home-screen so MixZing is another 9/10 application.
PlayerPRO Music Player ($4.99 or 5 day-trial)
PlayerPRO is clearly the best in this roundup. Really good player and really good lock-screen features. It also features a 10-band equalizer and HD album art.
You can choose from two types of widgets (4×2 widget with clock or a 4×4 widget) and three types of unlock modes (slider, button or back key).
This one gets a 10/10. It deserves it.
Another neat and tidy application with great UI. As far as the lock-screen, it does support direct to home-screen unlock. It does however misfire a lot. Now I’m not sure if it’s the application or my phone (I currently have installed all of the players in this round-up — not sure if that’s best practice — and the Last.fm application is going nuts).
Nonetheless, Songbird is clearly the best of the free apps. This also gets the perfect 10/10.
Ah yes. Good ol’ Winamp. One of the most widely used media players on the desktop found its way to the Android Market. I’m personally not a fan, but some love it.
It doesn’t unlock to home-screen, the context menu changes in every view and that kind of ruins consistency. The UI is like the Bento UI on the desktop and that’s pretty much it. 8/10
Phantom Music Control (Free or $0.99 for extra features and skins)
Phantom Music Control is not a player, but a widget. It is very neatly designed and has lots of skins. Couple this application with WidgetLocker Lockscreen and you’ll get tons of variations on how your lock-screen works. I didn’t manage to make it work with the default Android music player, but it works great with doubleTwist.