I've been carrying an iPhone for a week and a half now. It definitely isn't my favorite mobile platform, but it made me realize that many things about Android could definitely to be improved upon – more specifically the media player. Apple's iPhone is built around being a multimedia device. The iPod trend took off years ago and has completely revolutionized the way people listen to music. You get the same great experience out of the iPhone as you would any iPod; ample built-in storage, iTunes as a way to organize your media from a desktop, and several other features that tie the experience into a tightly knit ecosystem.
Android is centered around customization and modifying the device to fit to your needs, not so much around media consumption. The stock Music app is sufficient; but it's dull, feature-deprived, and reeks of being an afterthought. I've done some scrounging around in Android Market over the past few days looking for a different media player. There were only a few worth downloading and here are the top three that I found to be the best:
When it comes to media players, PowerAMP is by far my favorite. I'll go as far to say that as a standalone app, I like it more than the iPod app on the iPhone. Not only does PowerAMP look great, but it is packed full of features. It offers some of the most customizable equalization options I've seen in a mobile app. You can download album art straight from the app, edit individual track info, and it even has a very functional widget – which you can also set as the lock screen when music is playing. While PowerAMP is great for when you already have the music on the device, you will still have to load and manage the music manually. There is a free trial of PowerAMP in Market. Once this trial expires, you will be asked to upgrade to the full version for $4.99. In my opinion and experience with it, it is well worth the money.
This application is undoubtedly the closest to the iOS media experience. The media player portion of the app looks great and it's free. As nice as the UI may be, doubleTwist is missing some key features like on-device playlist creation and EQ settings. It was also very laggy at times. The more important aspect of doubleTwist is the ability to sync your music and iTunes playlists with an Android phone. The doubleTwist computer software is (strikingly) similar to iTunes and can even sync with an iTunes library. However, after using it for a few hours, I became fed up. The computer program was slow to load and took nearly ten minutes to scan for roughly 1,000 songs. After waiting for everything to finish loading, things went fairly smoothly. If you really want the full doubleTwist experience, you can download an add-on that enables AirSync for $4.99. This allows you to wirelessly sync without having to mount your device to your computer. If the media player could hold a candle to PowerAmp, I wouldn't hesitate to pay for AirSync. However, the lagginess and lack of features kills it for me.
Obviously not as polished as the other two, MixZing is a nice free alternative to the stock Music app. It has some very unique functions like song recommendations and auto-creating playlists (similar to how Pandora works). In the long run, there wasn't enough to MixZing for me to quit using PowerAMP (which I paid for long ago). However, the free version PowerAMP is only a trial. Once it expires, you may want to switch over to this for a while to see how they compare. If you like this one better, MixZing also has a paid version that removes the ads for $4.99.
While these music players definitely address some of the issues I've had with the stock Android Music app, they still don't make the experience as hassle-free or as smooth as iOS. It's hard for third-party applications to compete with the deeply integrated ecosystem that Apple has grown over the past four years. Regardless of what I've tried and what is offered in Market, nothing truly makes up for not having a way to quickly and easily manage your music from a computer and sync with your phone. We know Google is hard at work on improving their music app and building an ecosystem, but I have little faith that a lot will change anytime soon. Until then, I guess the only options are to deal with laggy software like doubleTwist or manually manage my music through my computer's file browser.
There are several other music player alternatives in Android Market like Meridian Music Player and Music PlayerPro. That said, do you use any of these music players? If not, which app do you use?