Android's vaunted flexibility extends to the multitude of music players available for your phone or tablet. 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. (Image Credit: Shutterstock)
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. And even if you don't shoot for the cloud and streaming services, it still does a good job of playing music in your device storage, though with less frills than other players.
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.
Musicolet is an ad-free music player that eschews syncing and fancy cloud features in favor of delivering offline functionality and a boatload of features for playing your local music files. Musicolet supports a variety of music formats, and includes a nice multi-queue manager for queuing up multiple albums or playlists, a tag editor, embedded lyrics support, a sleep timer and widgets. You won't find a ton of cosmetic customizations here, as Musicolet is all about functionality rather than style.
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.
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.
Rocket Player offers some solid features, even in its free tier. The app features a clean and bright design that never gets in the way of doing its job — playing good music. Basic player functionality, a built-in equalizer, library search and management tools, podcast support, and home and lock screen widgets are among the free features. Allowing the app to display adverts gives you more features like expanded file format support, a 10-band equalizer, and gapless playback. Or you can make an in-app purchase to unlock all features without the advertisements. You can also subscribe to cloud backup and sync features, as well as iSyncr for syncing your iTunes library and metadata to Rocket Player.