Today we’ll be looking at one of those Smartphone functions that most people use daily, but often take for granted. Every Android phone comes with a music player – whether it’s the stock Android player, or something from the manufacturer. However, not all music apps are created equal, and there are plenty of them available on the market (and in fact Winamp just released a beta of their player to the Android market today).
We’re not looking at Winamp today though. Instead I’ll talk about a player that has one of the most well thought-out interfaces I’ve seen in a portable music player. It makes full use of your phone’s connectivity, and is extremely flexible. That player is called Android Music PlayerPro.
We’ll jump right into it, and show you the interface that grabbed my attention right away:
Across the top of the screen, there are four main ways to browse through your collection; a list of all albums, artists, genres, custom playlists, and folders. You can also enable a full list of tracks if you wish. But what really sets it apart is its ability to fetch not only album covers, but artist photos and even genre logos from the net. This gives it a degree of customization that I highly appreciated.
Don’t like the photo it found for you? Simply tap-hold the image, and pick a new one. There are plenty to choose from, allowing you to give your music player the exact look you want. It’s smarter than a simple image search too; I fully expected the image for “Q-Tip” to be a cotton swab, but there were quite a few good photos to choose from.
The same goes for album covers. These change over time, and if you want to use the original release of an album, or an import version, you can easily find it with Music PlayerPro. Results here may vary for more obscure albums though; sometimes the quality can be thumbnail-worthy at best.
Shown above are two of the four choices for the main player skins. They are simple, and finger-friendly, although I think most people will choose to control their music via the many widgets that are available. There are two other skins – one that mimics the default Android player, and one for the old-school crowd that looks just like Windows Media Player Mobile!
Speaking of widgets, they come in just about any size you’d find useful. Above are four of the five sizes (there is also a 4×4 full-screen widget with album art). It will even place a widget on the lock screen for you, if supported (I don’t have Sense UI installed, so I’m not sure if it will work).
The developers could have easily stopped there, and I would have been totally happy with it. But there are a few more features which again take advantage of the connectivity of using a smartphone instead of a dedicated music player. Being able to read artist bios (courtesy of Last.fm) and lyrics from within the player itself is just one of those simple functions that make for perfect time-killers when you don’t feel like playing Angry Birds of visiting Facebook.
Music PlayerPro also has a “share” feature which allows you to send the album art, artist picture – or even the music file itself (RIAA is going to love that) via various means. I’m not sure how long this function will last, or if it is even needed. You’d think a commercial app developer, of all people, would be sensitive to supporting piracy…
Other features include “scrobbling” – one social networking fad that I was not aware of. I think it involves telling everyone what music you are listening to, as if anyone should care. You also get headset override, as well as the ability to disable any browsing type you want (personally, I just use Artist and go from there. I don’t see much point in browsing by “genre”). One thing that some users may miss is an equalizer, but that may be coming.
Music PlayerPro takes a basic, well working music player, and adds just enough custimization and time-killing features to make it worth considering as your main music app. If you are tired of the default Android player, or HTC’s horrendous interface, you might want to give this one a try. It’s available now for about $2 on the Android Market.
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