Remember Napster, the pioneering peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing Internet service that emphasized sharing MP3 songs but quickly ran into legal difficulties over copyright infringement? In hindsight, Napster—and its successors, such as Gnutella, Freenet, Kazaa, and Bearshare—became popular mainly because of how convenient it was to use them.
It turns out that most people couldn’t care less how their music is stored. All they want is to be able to listen to it when the mood strikes without taking a hike to the other side of the city to buy a CD or dealing with horrible DRM schemes that often require the user to have a special softer installed on his or her computer just to play the bloody song.
It took the music industry a long time, but, alas, we have a sizable selection of music streaming apps for our beloved Android phones and tablets to choose from. They offer all the convenience of P2P sharing without the obvious legal issues. We have selected 5 best streaming music apps for Android phones and tablets to satisfy your listening needs.
Founded in 2006 by Daniel Ek, a Swedish entrepreneur and a technologist, and Martin Lorentzon, Spotify has revolutionized the music industry as we know it today, making it possible to instantly access to over 30 million songs through its Android app. Of course, you can also run Spotify on your Windows PC, Apple computer or smartphone, and other devices.
According to 9to5, “Spotify has 40 million paying subscribers worldwide,” in addition to more than 60 million users who don’t mind the lower audio quality and occasional ads that come with the free version. The premium subscription costs 5.99 euros per month (each region has a slightly different but more or less similar price for the premium subscription) and allows for unlimited song skips, offline listening, and high-quality audio.
The Spotify app went through several major design overhauls, some of which added new features while others removed them to streamline the user experience. Not only does Spotify have an enormous collection of music, but they also have exclusive releases and curated playlists. If we had to recommend you only one music app for Android, it would be Spotify—there’s no question about it.
The good old radio station experience has been digitalized, and the industry leader is called iHeartRadio. This Internet radio platform was launched in 2008 as the website iheartmusic.com, and it now aggregates audio content from over 800 local iHeartMedia radio stations across the United States, as well as from hundreds of other stations and from various other media.
When you install the app on your device, it will ask you what music genres you like, let you pick your favorite stations—such as 106.7 Lite FM, Z100, KIIS FM, KTU 103.5 & Power 105.1 FM in NYC, 104.3 myFM in Los Angeles—and podcasts—including Ted Talks, On Air with Ryan Seacrest, The Breakfast Club, Bob and Tom in the Morning—and, like with analogue radio, it’s all free.
iHeartRadio supports Google Chromecast, allowing you to pair the app with your Android Wear devices, or use iHeartRadio in your car with Android Auto. It was featured as one of the Best Android Apps of 2014 and has a Play Store rating of 4.7 stars.
Amazon Music Unlimited
Most bibliophiles probably already know about Kindle Unlimited, which offers “customers access to over 600,000 titles from the Kindle Library and 2,000 on Audible, with unlimited reading or listening on both for roughly $10 a month,” and what fan of movies and TV shows hasn’t considered paying $8.99 a month for Prime Video, Amazon’s unlimited access to their glorious collection of movies and TV shows.
Now, the “Unlimited” family has a new member: Amazon Music Unlimited. The service costs $9.99 a month for regular users and $7.99 a month for Prime members. Amazon Music Unlimited is currently available only in the United States, but UK, Germany, and Austria are expected to join the party very soon.
Accompanying the service is an Android app called Amazon Music. The app lets you listen to tens of millions of songs from today’s most popular artists, explore curated playlists and stations, access your favorites with offline listening, and play music already stored on your Android device.
Pandora is an online radio available to listeners living in the U.S., Australia, and New Zealand. Their Android app, Pandora® Radio, gives you an instant access to a large selection of curated playlists, so you can easily pick the one that suits your mood or create personalized stations from songs, artists, genres, or comedians.
If you don’t like being interrupted while listening, you can pay for the Pandora Plus subscription, which costs $4.99 a month and removes all ads and gives you the ability to skip and replay an unlimited number of songs.
The service was founded in 2000, and it is powered by the Music Genome Project, which uses over 450 attributes to describe songs and a complex mathematical algorithm to organize them. This way, Pandora can take educated guesses on what song would you like to listen to next.
Google Play Music
With its catalog of over 35 million songs and $9.99 a month for “All Access” subscription, Google Play Music is a worthy competitor to Spotify. Their Android app has been installed more than one billion times, and it seamlessly integrates with the rest of Google’s large ecosystem.
Google publicly launched Google Play Music in 2011 as “Google Music,” only to rename it to “Google Play Music” in 2012. The service is currently available in 62 countries, allowing users to listen to expertly curated playlists, store up to 50,000 songs for their personal collections, and subscribe to podcasts, among many other features.