Best Music and Audio Players on Android

July 21st, 2012

Last fall i switched from iPhone to Android and for the most part am happy I did.  Apple has great design, but you can only do things the apple way and i wanted more options.  One of the things I wanted was more audio playing/managing options.   I don’t just want any player, I am picky – I’ve listed my requirements below.

Goal

Sync audio (music and talk/news radio) with Android.  Specifically:

  • Make it easy to create/edit playlist on mac, and sync it with bionic, the way iTunes and iPhone work.  Includes adding and removing songs from a existing playlist, and those songs get sync’d .. easily.
  • Make it easy to do daily syncs of podcasts from iTunes (or skip itunes and sync android with internets)
  • Make it easy to delete songs/playlists from android.
  • Do it all for Free.

Environment:

  • Mac with 5,000+ songs and podcasts in iTunes.
  • 400GB of mp3s on backup drive.
  • Fast wifi at home, but dsl (slow) between home and internet.
  • Android bionic phone, limited storage (8GB, can only sync a few playlists of songs from my collection).

Solutions

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Winamp is similar to the classic program from the 90’s. For android, its a complete and quality program, few bugs.  Similar to Doubletwist.

Pros

  • UI is functionally complete and then some.
    • Bottom always has a drawer that you can drag up to get info on what is currently playing.
    • Clicking on winamp lightening bolt logo in bottom right goes to main menu
    • Has a progress bar showing elapsed and total time of current track, and you can drag current position marker to move to end or beginning of track.
    • Pressing and holding next/prev arrow buttons goes fwd/back a few seconds in track.  Great for fine-positioning tracks over an hour (too hard to do with position marker on progress bar).
  • You can’t sort songs, but there are 3 useful built-in playlists: Recently Added, Recently Played ,Top Played
  • Pauses when headphones are pulled out
    • nice if you’re out and about listening on your headphones and someone asks you a question, you can immediately pull out cord, talk, and then spend time with android to start playing where you left off.

Cons

  • Updating playlists duplicates them, should replace. You can manually delete older ones by tap and hold, but if you want to auto-sync 5 playlists, you will have to manually delete 5 every time you sync.  Gets old real quick.

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Doubletwist is complete music app, appealing to those who like iTunes

Pros

  • UI is functionally complete and then some.
  • Very easy to manage through iTunes, then ready to sync, launch doubeltwist, connect phone via usb, and done

Cons

  • Adding new songs to existing playlist in iTunes does not update playlist in Doubletwist on phone.  However, there is a fix – open Winamp and delete all but most recent version of a playlist, then come back to doubletwist to see most updated version of playlist (see Winamp Cons)

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Google Music Beta, now Play Music, is Google’s version of iCloud.  You sync your music from your computer to the cloud, then either download to android or stream real-time.

Pros

  • Sync without wires, over the cloud
  • Stream is useful if you have fast connection and not enough space on device

Cons

  • Cloud syncing is WAY too slow.  Syncing one or two songs is fine, but to sync GB from mac to internet and back to android takes forever.
  • UI for app is pretty basic
  • Has bugs .. like syncing unknown albums

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DoggCatcher (DC) Podcast App, is for the android only, does not run on a computer (a mac).  You  setup your podcast feeds directly on your phone.

Pros

  • Best way to manage podcasts – on phone directly
  • Intuitive interface
    • Feeds – lists all your podcast feeds, add by category or suggestions or search. Perfect.
    • Playing – summary and complete description about podcast (other players cut this info off)
    • Audio – lists all downloaded podcasts, tap and hold to reveal many options
    • player at bottom – always there, pause easily.
  • Free for trial period

Cons:

  • Content is very limited compared to what is possible with iTunes
  • When the headphones pull out, it plays off speaker (winamp pauses automatically)

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I want to use these a bit more before I review them

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Summary

I have been using a combination of the above for months now. I love winamp the most for playing audio for all reasons listed above.  I use Dogcatcher to automatically get the latest news and talk radio podcasts, like NPR’s This American Life, AC360 from CNN, the Nerdist, and Comedy Bang-bang. And I like doubletwist to easily keep iTunes playlists on my mac in sync with my android.

Note: I will update these as i try new music apps.

 

 


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