Hey, remember Winamp? The best media player you haven’t used in over a decade? Well, they’re back with a new Android offering that’s gonna have you falling in love all over again.
Winamp for Android offers two main things that set it apart from other players I’ve tried: a rock-solid interface and wireless sync. I know that there are other players that are mighty pretty and other options for syncing, but the way Winamp handles things, on my device and on my desktop, really can’t be beat. Here’s why:
As you jump from screen to screen, the play controls stay locked to the bottom of the screen (as opposed to just the track info in the stock Android player). Along with the controls, you get a now playing bar, which at any time you can slide up (notification bar style) for access to the full now playing screen.
Also locked to the bottom of the screen is a button to jump to the play queue (where you can easily drag and drop songs to reorder) and a Winamp logo to jump you to the app’s home screen. Combining all those options into a tiny persistent bar makes jumping around the app an absolute breeze.
In all fairness, and as a designer myself, I know a lot of UI and functionality boils down to preference. But damn, I prefer this. The UI looks absolutely perfect on my Nexus. Every button, bar, and gradient looks crisp and inviting (really, you should check out the full-size linked to the left).
Mixed in with all the custom UI is a solid dose of stock Android, making everything feel natural. The track listings and settings screens are the familiar white text on black background I’m already used to. My only gripe is sometimes my album art looks pixelated when displayed so large, but that’s partly my fault for downloading low-res album covers.
Creating and managing playlists was never that big of a hurdle to begin with, but Winamp adds some welcome improvements.
In addition to the regular, user-created playlists, it automatically builds a handful of smart playlists for you based on your listening patterns. You can easily access your most recently added or played music or your most popular tracks.
In addition to all the standard equipment, Winamp is packing a slew of impressive extras. You get a home screen widget (with play controls, shuffle, repeat, albumb art- the works), along with lock screen controls (which I didn’t test because I don’t use a lock screen) and audio scobbling (via Last.fm).
If the above, player-specific features aren’t enough to win you over (and really, they should be), we’ve saved the best for last. The latest Winamp desktop release can sync your music over wifi. And that’s the main win here:
The Winamp desktop player doesn’t suck. I don’t want to name names, but we all know there is a certain piece of desktop sync software that comes up often in the Android-as-an-MP3-player conversation. After today, you’d have to doubletwist my arm to make me allow it anywhere near my desktop. Syncing over wifi with Winamp was honestly a best-case scenario.
After enabling it in the options, my desktop Winamp immediately listed my Nexus One under the devices tab [image]. From there I was able to pair the device and start sending files over. It was as easy as finding the tracks in my library and selecting them for transfer [image]. While the transfer is active you get a screen showing the progress of the queue [image] and an overall progress percentage [image].
Within minutes of installing I had new music showing up on my device, no extra setup, no hassle. And like I said, the player itself is so solid that the wireless sync is just icing on the cake. I’d use the player without the sync feature, and I’d use Winamp desktop over Doubletwist any day- put those pieces together and you’ve got my new music app.
Sometimes you guys razz us for being too positive in reviews. This time I think it’s warranted (actually, it’s always warranted- we get excited about good software) but I still want to know what you guys think- about the app and Winamp in general. Had you given up in the desktop player? Will this bring you back?
I’ve always had the desktop player installed but over the past year or so it lost out to iTunes (mainly due to the awesome iTunes remote app in the market) but I could see the Android app winning me back. That’s actually an interesting topic in itself: what other apps are good enough that they sway what you use your real computer?