The Best Music Player Apps for Android [December 2019]

Smartphones are one of those once-in-a-lifetime inventions that seemingly replaced a dozen different product categories overnight, in the name of both convenience and affordability. Instead of buying multiple gadgets that perform a single function, the rise of the modern smartphone ten years ago helped end the need for dedicated electronics. Portable GPS systems for cars, point-and-shoot cameras, camcorders and “vlogging” cameras, portable gaming systems, iPods and MP3 players, and so much more—all replaced with a single piece of metal, aluminium, and plastic. While each of these product categories are still available to some extent, sales have declined as it became apparent we didn’t need dedicated gadgets to navigate through our modern world. We only needed one.

So, as Apple continues killing off its iPod lineup and MP3 players become nearly impossible to find in stores, it’s worth looking at the music app on your Android device to make sure you’re using the right one for you. There are a ton of great choices on the Play Store, and you’ll want to make sure you’re using the right music app for you. From paid apps to streaming services, free music players to online radio stations, it can be difficult to navigate and find the right music player application. Whether you’re looking to upload your entire collection to the cloud or playback local music saved on your SD card, finding the right music player for you is an important part of owning an Android phone. There’s so much choice and selection, it really comes down to what kind of app you’re looking for, based on feature sets, price, and design.

We’ve tested a dozen music apps on the Play Store and found some of our favorites among the bunch. While we won’t say any app is perfect, the difference between a good music app and a great music app can be hard to notice, so it’s more important than ever to keep an eye on what’s on the Play Store. These are the apps we found to be the best of the bunch, the cream of the crop—the finest music players offered on the Play Store. Let’s take a look.

Everyone else

Spotify might not be the best app for playing music if you keep a lot of local files on your phone, but for Android users looking for an easy, free solution to streaming music, it’s one of our favorite platforms out there—so long as you’re willing to build your collection using the desktop app for Windows and MacOS. If you’re unfamiliar with Spotify, here’s what you need to know. Spotify is one of the most popular music streaming services in the United States, often credited for kicking off the current trend of music subscription services.

Though Spotify offers a $9.99/month plan for unlimited streaming (with a $4.99/month plan for students), over 50% of their users currently stick to the free plan, which allow for standard, commercial-filled streaming on desktop and a shuffle-only option on mobile. If you’re willing to deal with ads and the constant shuffle of your favorite albums and playlists, however, Spotify can be one of the easiest ways to get into mobile streaming without paying a dime. Again, however, make sure you aren’t expecting to use this for local playback—all local files have to be uploaded to the cloud from your computer, and unless you’re willing to sign up for Spotify Premium, you won’t be able to take those files with you anyway.

doubleTwist might seem like a pretty standard Android music player app at first. It doesn’t have any sort of fancy subscription models or streaming music—though doubleTwist does offer a separate Cloud Music player for those with large collections of songs stored in Google Drive or Dropbox. No, instead, doubleTwist focuses on being a really good music player, with a clean, Material design-influenced player. The app includes automatic artist bios for your collection, the ability to search and update album art for your tracks, plus a couple extra bonus features.

You’ll be able to sync and listen to your iTunes playlist with DoubleTwist, and if you’re willing to upgrade to the premium version, you can also stream your music over Chromecast and even Apple Airplay devices. The premium version also includes a 10-band equalizer, album art search, and the option to remove ads from your podcast collection. If you decide to stick with doubleTwist’s free version, you’ll be able to do so without any ads or interruptions to purchase the premium model—doubleTwist is a free app without any limits or time-based trial periods.

Another app focused on being a really good music player, BlackPlayer doesn’t stand out for a new idea or never-before-seen feature included in the app. Instead, it’s BlackPlayer’s design that makes the app stand out, with a flat UI clearly influenced but not governed by the Material design guidelines laid out back in 2014. Using a dark theme that looks especially great on Super AMOLED displays like those found on the Galaxy S8 and S8+, BlackPlayer has one of our favorite UIs of any app on this list.

The library options, especially, remind us of a combination between Material design and Microsoft’s Modern UI used on Windows Phone devices years ago. You can quickly slide through your collection with gestures, as well as using the top panels to select songs. BlackPlayer has a premium version, BlackPlayer EX, which removes ads, adds a light theme, and includes a bunch of other design-based options. If you try out the free version of BlackPlayer and enjoy it, for $2.95, BlackPlayer EX is more than worth the upgrade for everything included on the app.

We haven’t been super subtle in this article about preferring music apps that have a focus on design, and while our top two picks certainly put aside their design in sacrifice of features, apps like BlackPlayer and doubleTwist both have a solid design language that we liked a lot. That said, our favorite app in terms of design on the Play Store is Pulsar, with a flat, colorful design that looks pretty close to what we would hope a potential redesign of Google Play Music would appear as. Album art appears as large prints, taking up the top half of the Now Playing screen, with flat color panels dictating the bottom half of the screen.

Even the sliding panels inside the app have been redesigned with color. The app only weighs in at 2.8MB in size, and can edit metadata right on your phone to adjust. If you try the app and find yourself in love with the design and features, there’s also a Pro version available for $2.99 that adds additional themes, an equalizer, EQ presets, and a bass-booster. Pulsar doesn’t do anything out of the ordinary, but the app looks truly fantastic, and that alone makes it one of the best music players on Android.

Depending on your age, AIMP might remind you of Winamp, one of the classic iTunes alternatives from back in the day of iPods and MP3 libraries. Not only does the name invoke memories of that classic application, but the design also seems to scream a certain 90s aesthetic, crossed with the same Material design we’ve seen grace most of the apps on this list. AIMP’s design isn’t quite as nice as some of the other apps on this list, but with light and dark modes and support for custom themes, it isn’t the worst-looking music app we’ve seen either. The app supports a huge number of file types, and comes complete with a 10-band EQ without having to upgrade to a premium model.

In fact, AIMP is the only completely free app on this list, making it a must-have for anyone looking for fully-featured apps without an upgrade price or having to put up with ads. The app also includes a sleep timer, the ability to slow down or speed up music files, and an option to view metadata and lyrics right within the app itself. Overall, AIMP isn’t the best or prettiest app on this list, but if you’re looking for a powerful on-the-go music manager—especially one for free—AIMP might just be right for you.

If you’re looking for the great combination of streaming and local music, you’ll want to check out Apple Music. Apple Music functions as both a full-blown streaming service and as a way to listen to your  music files—well, on iOS at least. On Android, you’ll need to pay the $9.99 per month for an Apple Music subscription, but if you were ever an iTunes user back in the day, you’ll be able to access all of your iTunes purchases by using this method as well. The app is solid, with the basic lineup of features most have come to expect from standard music subscription apps in 2019. Whether you’re looking for radio stations, new releases, or to create your own curated library, there are plenty of options for using Apple Music to stream your favorite songs and artists.

When it comes to playing music offline, Apple Music has a solid lineup of choices. Adding music to your device makes it easy to download straight from your library, assigning everything you want to download on your phone by tapping on the More icon in your library and selecting the download option. Like many of the streaming applications we’ve come to love and recommend, Apple Music has a toggle available in the settings mode that allows you to switch onto downloaded music only, making it easy to listen to the songs you love. If you’re looking to listen to radio stations offline, unfortunately, you’ll have to look elsewhere. Still, Apple Music is an excellent player for Android, even if it isn’t quite as fully featured as its iOS counterpart.

The app replacing Google Play Music within the next year or so has a bumpy history, but a recent relaunch for this application bodes well for the future of YouTube Music. Available on Android and other platforms, YouTube Music is Google’s newest and most future-proof streaming service, as Google continues to build out the application. YouTube Music isn’t the perfect streaming application yet, but it’s promising—especially considering it’s early in the app’s launch. Here’s the deal with YouTube Music: the app combines Spotify-style radio stations with a full library mode (that, we’ll admit, is currently lacking in features and robustness).

Still, the app actually has some pretty great features, especially for offline listening. You’ll have to sign up for the YouTube Music streaming service to access offline playback, but once you do, you can download all sorts of music to your device. The best option, of course, comes from the ability to download and keep music on your device using the Offline Mixtape option. Offline Mixtape takes the idea of caching music from Google Play Music and runs with it, creating a system where YouTube Music automatically downloads a certain number of songs it predicts you’ll enjoy so that you can discover new music offline. YouTube Music does this daily, and you can adjust the quality and number of songs downloaded to your device to keep room free on your phone. It’s probably the best feature of YouTube Music, so even though it isn’t perfect, it’s definitely worth looking into.

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