Android's vaunted flexibility extends to the multitude of music players available on the mobile platform. Google Play Music offers traditional functionality and cloud streaming, and it's right there on your phone. But if you're looking for something more, you can turn to third-party apps — even one from Google rival Apple! — for greater customization, sound control and variety. Whether you're a casual listener or have thousands of songs to organize, here are our picks for the best music players on Android.
Let's start with the default choice, just because you may have overlooked it. That would be a mistake: Google Play Music offers a number of perks that ought to make you give it a whirl. Google makes a pretty clever upload manager that lets you add up to 50,000 songs from iTunes or any other program where you’re currently storing your music. And if you subscribe, you get access to the entire Google Play catalogue along with YouTube Red. This grants you ad-free viewing of nearly all videos on the service and access to programming developed specifically for YouTube Red subscribers.
Apple Music isn't just for iOS anymore. And even the most ardent Android fan would have to concede Apple's streaming service is pretty good. You get access to Beats One, your music playlists, and Apple’s catalogue of 30 million songs. This option is most likely going to appeal to those who generally stick close to Apple’s ecosystem, but it's nice to have the ability to throw an Android phone into the mix. Apple Music subscriptions cost $9.99 a month, but you can enjoy a three-month trial at the start.
Poweramp is a feature-filled Android player available free for a 15-day trial, with a $3.99 upgrade to the full version. The app includes support for a wide variety of audio formats, a 10-band graphic equalizer, support for lyrics, .cue files and numerous playlist formats. A tag editor, fast library searching, home and lock screen widgets and numerous visual and setting customizations make Poweramp a heck of a choice if you're willing to shell out for a nice Android music player app.
The lesser-known BlackPlayer is a slick, minimalist app with a clean, configurable interface that packs decent features under the hood. Swipe controls let you easily navigate the library's various views (track, album, artist, genre) as well as playback. Vertical swipes to bring you to next or previous tracks. On the audio end, BlackPlayer includes a 5 band equalizer, as well as a variety of audio effects such as a bass booster and virtualizer, and gapless playback and crossfade on devices that support it. BlackPlayer also comes with three widgets, an ID3 tag editor, and support for FLAC and embedded lyrics.
Pi Music Player comes with most of the features you'd want on a good Android music player, such as a five-band equalizer, library management, playlist controls, and configurable themes, but also includes some nice extras. A ringtone cutter feature lets you snip clips of your favorite tunes for use as your phone ringtone, and a feature called Pi Powershare uses Send Anywhere to share music files to your friends across platforms by sending a six-digit code that they can enter within the app or through a browser page. The app is ad-supported, with in-app purchases available to remove advertising or provide new interface themes.
The Stellio Music Player has a neat, gesture-driven interface and an adaptive interface theme that automatically shifts colors to match your album art, and backs up the eye candy with solid features such as broad file format support, a 12-band equalizer, widgets, lyrics support, and Last.fm scrobbling. The Now Playing interface is particularly nice, with the traditional seek bar transformed into a circular dial that works nicely on a phone screen, and swipe gestures allow you to easily pull up the next or previous tracks. The app is ad-supported, with an in-app purchase removing advertising.
Phonograph is a sleek-looking Android music player that hews closely to the flat and bright look of Material design and provides users with a clean-looking user experience that hides features like tag editing and playlist management behind contextual menus. The result is a very clutter-free interface (complete with colors that can automatically change to match the album art), though you might need to make an extra tap or two to get to features like the sleep timer or equalizer.