Google-owned Android phones are doing a fine job of grabbing market share without a killer MP3 music player like iTunes. With an improved MP3 player, however, Android could make significant inroads on the iPhone as the device of choice for music lovers.
A post on Engadget last night featured a leaked video (below) of an in-the-works Android music player that would appear to be an improvement over its current stock MP3 player. It's difficult to discern too much from the shaky, low-quality video, but it is clear the app will offer a more attractive user interface. The scrolling function, for example, is an apparent take on iTunes' popular Coverflow feature that allows the user to visually flip through album art.
A much-improved MP3 app is a prerequisite for the launch of a Google music service, which is expected in early 2011. It is not clear yet if Google will launch an a la carte music store an all-you-can-eat cloud-based buffet.
The Android doesn't currently match the iPhone (or iPod Touch) when it comes to an MP3 player. While Apple devices have the elegant, effective iTunes, Android devices come with a workmanlike yet capable stock MP3 player.
Android owners do have other options, however. The Winamp player is a strong MP3 player that has been downloaded over 250,000 times (it could be more but that's the highest number Android Market gives for download stats). By installing the Winamp player on a PC, a person can sync and manage libraries via WiFi or USB. The doubleTwist AirSync app performs the same over-the-air syncing function but costs $4.99. AirSync works in conjunction with the doubleTwist media player, a solid MP3 player.
The feature-rich PowerAMP is another popular MP3 player app for Android. The free version, good for a trial period only, has been downloaded over 250,000 times. The full version, priced at $4.99, has been downloaded between 50,000 and 250,000 times.
Android users have other options for accessing their MP3 collections on their mobile devices. Both Thumbplay and doubleTwist will sync a user's MP3 collection to a cloud-based service. The MP3Tunes app streams the MP3s that have been uploaded to the user's cloud-based locker.