Android has been pretty weak in the multimedia department when it first got released, having almost no audio and video codecs besides the basic ones and no good media player apps on the marketplace. That posed quite a problem for a young OS that was meant for the mass market.
But fortunately, things started changing once the operating system became more mainstream. More and more developers started working on apps for the users, and of course, multimedia was a big requirement for them. That’s why now, almost 2 years later, we have a lot of great media players, both for music and video, on the Android marketplace. There are actually about a hundred such apps, but most of them failed to get any traction. Below are those that succeeded and became the top media player apps for Android.
The stock Android music player is the most used player for Android – for obvious reasons. It’s not very good though, but it does get the job done. Google has integrated the most popular codecs and formats into it, so you can play aac, mp3, wma, wav files without a hitch, but you won’t be able to play some of the more exotic formats, like flac. The interface is simple and practical –big buttons and text made for touch screens, which are very easy to see and press. If you don’t need some of the more advanced features, this is a pretty good player.
PowerAMP looks very promising and might very well be the best music player for Android and power users. It looks pretty simple, but packs a lot of advanced features under the hood. It has a great, professional looking interface with knobs and buttons that are easy to use, and it supports most of the popular music formats on the market, including Mp3, mp4, ogg, flac, and others, using its own codecs to play them, so you don’t need to worry about any incompatibilities. It also has support for tags, skins and widgets, and has a great integrated equalizer.
Lithium Music Player is another great app for Android. It is very light on resources, and has a simple to use interface that is uncluttered and pretty damn good looking. You get all the basic functions, plus the ability to sort music by artist, album, track name or playlists and load up lyrics for the songs you like.
Winamp is without a doubt, the best music player for Windows. It has a lot of features, and yet is able to neatly hide them under drop down menus and maintain a very simple interface (which you can also switch for a more complicated one if you want to be able to control everything). No other player has the collection of plugins and skins that Winamp has, and that makes it even better. And now, all this goodness will be available for Android, too! The new Winamp Beta for Android looks great and has all the features you might need, including the unique ability to have a widget on the lock screen, so you can control your player with the phone locked and the possibility to sync the songs and playlists with its desktop version, so if you’re using it, then you should definitely download this Android app.
Touted as the most advanced media player around, MixZing certainly has enough features to back that statement. It supports most of the popular music and video formats and codecs in use, and has the ability to use tags, has an integrated graphic equalizer, a home screen widget, and a useful lyrics and album art search function. On top of that, the interface is pretty simple and easy to use on a touch screen device.
This is a pretty good advanced music and video player that supports most of the formats out there and has enough features to satisfy even the most demanding users. It has the ability to search lyrics for your favorite songs, edit ID3 tags, sort the files by rating, play a variety of codecs, including ape, mp4 and flac, and have a widget on the home screen for easy and quick access to the main controls. If you need a stable video/music player that is full of features, Meridian is one of the best choices.
Cubed is a pretty standard media player with a unique trait – its interface is a 3d cube, which you can spin up, down, left and right to perform various actions like searching for songs, sorting them alphabetically or by album name, and do other useful things. If you don’t like this interface, there is another, simpler one that you can use. The player is pretty fast and supports most of the popular file formats. Strangely, you will find the app on the marketplace under the name “3”, but that may be just temporary.
The aptly named “Video Player” is, of course, a video player. It is actually pretty old, but it works fine on older devices. It supports H.264 and H.263 encoded Mpeg files with AAC or MP3 audio with a resolution of 480×352 or lower. It’s very light on resources, so it’s a perfect choice for the HTC G1, Magic v2 and other low-performance smartphones.
Cinema is a pretty quick video player, thanks to it using the hardware video decoding capabilities in most Android smartphones, starting with the HTC G1 (aka Dream). This allows it to play almost any kind of resolution that is lower than 720 HD, but it also limits it to supporting only H.264 encoded mp4 files with Mp3 or AAC audio. If you do want to view these kind of files on a low performance device, there is no other better alternative: Cinema plays them very well and without any hitches.
DoubleTwist Music is a great looking music and video player that has everything you might need integrated into it. You can listen to and view almost any kind of formats you want, from mp3’s to avi files, and the app can load hundreds and thousands of files very quickly, while scanning their ID3 tags. You can search for lyrics, view songs similar to the one playing, sort the songs by artist, album, date, name and other criteria and do other useful things. It also features a radio streaming plugin, which just makes it better. The interface is very polished and understated – it has the default Android colors, yet is distinctively different, which is very nice. It is also completely free, but for a limited time, so get it now before it becomes paid!
This is a pretty decent and simple music player that can do most of the basic things you’d need from it. It can play mp3, wav, ogg and wma files, can view ID3 tags and it has a home screen widget that can be downloaded separately. The main selling point for this player is the fact that it sorts your files by folders, not by album or artist like most other players out there. This is very useful when you have already sorted all your music in folders, for example, and don’t like the player to mess it up.
Pandora is a free music streaming application for Android that is unfortunately only available in the US. Other than that, it is amazing service/app that lets you create custom “radio” channels and stream the music of your favorite artists or albums straight to your phone. Of course, this will use your 3G bandwidth allocation, but you can always use a Wifi hotspot when you have one in range. You can also search for lyrics, share your radio stations with other users and search for other great music based on a few details that you provide.
TuneWiki is marketed as a social media player, as it allows you to search for lyrics and subtitles and interact with other users (read reviews, share your playlists and do other things) on the service’s website while you’re listening to music or watching movies or TV shows. It has a playback widget for the home screen, integration with Facebook and Twitter (so now you can communicate with users on those sites as well) and the ability to stream songs through Shoutcast (for which you need a subscription). You can also view top charts and recommended songs in real time, all thanks to the big user base of the service that is comprised of both iPhone and Android users.
Astro Player is a powerful media player for all kinds of formats, which has a lot of features to offer to anyone who needs them. It supports almost every video and music formats out there, and has advanced bookmarks functionality, integrated audio books and podcast support, and other useful features. It can create playlists automatically based on folders, genres, artists, albums and any combination of them. You have access to skins, online streaming, online search for lyrics, ID3 tags and album arts, and much more. In short, it is really worth checking out, especially when it’s totally free.
Real player is a great media player for desktops and the iPhone, and it is now available for Android phones and tablets, as well. It has all the features you might need to play videos and music, listen to audio books and manage your multimedia collection without much headache. The interface is pretty sleek and intuitive, with big buttons and text that can be read and interacted with on all touch screen devices. If you need a great all-in-one media player from a reputable company, this is a very good choice. The beta version was pretty stable, so the Stable version should have no problems at all.
As you can see, Android doesn’t lack media players anymore. Phones and tablets using this OS can now play any kind of file format in any kind of encoding without any problems, and that is a good thing, since the users don’t have to mess around with converters (which take time and system resources) and have headaches just trying to get their favorite music or movies to play on their device. If you were having such problems, be sure to check out at least a couple of the above media apps – I’m sure you’ll quickly find a great solution.