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This chapter is from the book

Playing Music on a Smartphone

Many people today have abandoned their dedicated portable music players to instead listen to music on their smartphones. For most folks, this is a simple step sideways from an iPod to an iPhone; the music player functionality is nearly identical between the two.

After all, why not carry one multi-function device (smartphone) in place of two single-function devices (mobile phone and portable music player)? Even though a smartphone might not have as much storage capacity for your music library (especially when you start adding games and other apps to the phone), it’s considerably more convenient than juggling two separate devices in your purse or pocket.

Apple’s iPhone

The dominant smartphone today is, no surprise, Apple’s iPhone. The iPhone’s music storage and playback functionality is identical to that of an iPod touch, and similar to that of non-fullscreen iPods. With the latest 4S iteration, shown in Figure 27.11, you can find models with either 16GB ($199), 32GB ($299), or 64GB ($399) of storage. (All prices are subsidized by your purchase of a corresponding service plan with your wireless carrier.)

FIGURE 27.11

FIGURE 27.11 Use Apple’s iPhone for music playback.

Using an iPhone for music playback is appropriately intuitive. Tap the Music icon to launch the playback function. You can then browse through your playlists, artists, songs, or albums. As you can see in Figure 27.12, the iPhone displays the album cover fullscreen during playback, along with the necessary transport controls—while the device is held vertically. Flip the phone on its side and you get Apple’s cover view mode, shown in Figure 27.13, where you can flip back and forth through the albums on your device.

FIGURE 27.12

FIGURE 27.12 Playing music on an iPhone, in vertical mode.

Naturally, your iPhone connects to the iTunes software on your computer to manage your music library and synch tracks between the two devices. It’s also a cinch to purchase and download tracks directly from the iTunes Store to your phone. The Apple ecosystem is tight. (Just don’t expect to play WMA-format files on your iPhone; that’s not allowed.)

FIGURE 27.13

FIGURE 27.13 Hold the iPhone sideways to view your music in cover view mode.

Android Phones

If you have an Android phone, such as a Samsung Galaxy, you can also play music while you’re on the go. While many phones come with proprietary music player apps preinstalled, there are lots of other music player apps available from the Google Play app store. The most popular of these Android music player apps include the following:

  • AudioGalaxy
  • Cubed, shown in Figure 27.14
  • Meridian Music Player
  • MixZing Media Player
  • PlayerPro, shown in Figure 27.15
  • PowerAmp
  • TuneWiki
  • WinAmp
FIGURE 27.14

FIGURE 27.14 The Cubed music player for Android devices.

FIGURE 27.15

FIGURE 27.15 The PlayPro Android music player.

Most of these apps are free or certainly affordable, with the most expensive ones topping out at $4.99. Most of these apps play all file formats, including MP3, AAC, and WMA; some even play FLAC and OGG files. Check out the specs and reviews before you down load from the Google Play app store.

Windows 7 Phones

Windows Phone is a distant number-three player in the smartphone market. That’s a shame; I kind of like the interface. If you do too, Microsoft includes a Music+Videos hub in Windows Phone 7. The music function is dubbed Zune, and it does everything you’d expect a music player to do.

As you can see in Figure 27.16, music playback is simplicity itself, with transport controls above the current track’s artwork. There’s also a Smart DJ feature that automatically creates playlists based on tracks you select, which is nice.

FIGURE 27.16

FIGURE 27.16 Playing music on a Windows 7 Phone.

The one advantage to playing music on a Windows Phone is that you get to tap your library of WMA-format tunes, if that’s what you have. Naturally, there’s also MP3 playback, as well as Apple’s AAC-format files. That makes a Windows Phone a good fairly universal music playback device.

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