Lets face it, most of us will agree that the stock Music player for Android is nothing to be excited about. It’s dry and lifeless and when you compare it to the stock iPhone or iPad app it fails miserably.
One of the greatest features of an open source platform is this attraction of new apps. This openness creates competition, and competition is great for the user because it drives down prices and results in higher quality products. Fortunately the Music apps have been infiltrated with competition, producing some awesome (and some not so awesome) apps that give us all an alternative to the stock experience. Today we will be going through what the best Music player applications are, and what makes them so gmood.
Music Player Pro (£2.56)
Music Player Pro is a simple replacement for the Stock Android Music app that offers a few more features and does it with better style. For example it will automatically download your album artwork and lyrics for your music collection and scrobble you on Last.fm. Customisation is very easy here; with nine different skins and viewing styles, and several different homescreen widgets, you really can personalise your experience. Having said that, the user interface could do with a overhaul, as it feels a bit bleak and can be slow.
doubleTwist (Free but AirSync is $5.00)doubleTwist has a pretty big reputation for bringing iTunes to Android. The desktop application allows for syncing with your android phone (exactly like iTunes does with an iOS device) and then goes one step further with its AirSync add-on ($5.00), which pretty much does what it says on the tin: provides wireless syncing between your phone and your computer (see our guide here). The Android application itself has a fresh design, and with its black grid-style UI you will find it both pleasant and painless to use.
Music [mspot] (Free)
Following on from doubleTwist, Music (by Mspot), a cross-platform application, describes itself as iTunes in the cloud, and allows you to sync your devices without any cords. This offers a very similar service to doubleTwist, but does it free of charge. The cost is a less well-designed user interface.
It works well, offering almost instant syncing with 2GB free storage and upgradable packages thereafter. Music will also download your album artwork and lyrics. One of the features about this app I love is the free live wallpaper that comes with it, which displays your album artwork beautifully in the background.
bTunes has mixed reviews about its UI; if you like the iOS music app, then chances are you are going to love this. Yet many hardcore Androphiles wouldn’t ever want anything to do with the iPhone and would never consider buying this music player. This app is for people looking for an interface that’s pleasant to use. If you have ever used an iPhone before you will know exactly what you are doing.
Cubed [aka ³] (Free)
Cubed is a music player with a totally revolutional interface. With the option to scroll by simply flicking the cube (or several other epic viewing options), using this app is a delight. Having found this while doing research for this post I now use it as my default music player. Although it is still in beta, I haven’t experienced any issues with it. The graphics are fantastically smooth and this is really for those who are looking for something less boring and more artistic; the 4.5/5 star rating from over 15,000 people explains it all.
Although the MIUI Player isn’t an app in the Android Market (it comes pre-installed in the MIUI ROM) I felt it deserved a mention for its stunning design and functionality. It can be downloaded here from XDA and I would strongly recommend it. This is another app I use regularly (or at least before recently discovering Cubed) and it would be my number one recommendation for someone who wants to replace their stock app with something that has a much more aesthetic appearance without sacrificing any functionality. It also comes with a Karaoke style lyric scroller which is remarkably accurate and good fun.
HTC Music Player
Again this application can’t easily be downloaded but I thought it was worthy of going into the great Music Apps. Coming pre-installed on any HTC Sense phone this music player is one of the best out there. Its simple yet intuitive interface allows easy browsing of songs, artists, albums and playlists. Other than bTunes I would say this comes closest to mimicking the iOS interface, but does so with elegance and providing its own twist to certain elements, such as in the slider along the bottom of the browser. What is unique about this music player is that it provides streaming of your music via DNLA, enabling you to jam out to you favorite tunes via your living room speakers.
PowerAMP is considered the big daddy of Android music players. Being the most functional application for those unwilling to just sit back and listen, it is for those craving the best possible music experience from their phone. (Check out our recent in-depth review of it here).
That’s not to say you have to be a musical expert to use it, but with features like the 10 band graphical equalizer, which is renowned for its great functionality, and many different playlist options, such as dynamic queues and supporting more file types that I care to count, it really is aimed at those wanting to tweak and optimise their music playback. This application also comes with several widgets and lock screens to accompany its high levels of customizations as well as scrobbling with last.fm that make this the ultimate geek music player.
Winamp is one of those classic music players that has built up a loyal fanbase over the years. Starting originally as a desktop music client, it is a powerful application developed by the online giant AOL. Winamp, like many others, provides wireless syncing with your Winamp desktop application over WiFi (though this feature is PC only), while also providing many other features that make this app very versatile — including Scrobbling with Last.fm and SHOUTcast which allows for online radio playback combined with a myriad of add-ons.
This application has a rather unique design that although its still in Beta works exceptionally well and is recommended for those looking for a simple upgrade from the stock app. Check out our in-depth review of it here.
As you can see there are a fair few music players out there, and I chose what I thought were the best ones, from functionality to design. Hopefully from the screenshots and overviews you can see what apps are right for you — and if not, why not download them and share your experience in the comments below?
If you are looking primarily for a beautiful design, I would recommend either Miui or Cubed; if wireless sync is your thing then I would go for doubleTwist, as it has such a strong team of developers behind it; and if its all about the sound quality, I really don’t think there is any competition to PowerAMP. Your choice, boys and girls. Let us know what you go for.