The hunt for the perfect media player.

It’s a constant quest for media enthusiasts. Since the early days of WinMo and Palm OS, we’ve been trying to find ways to improve the media experience on our phones.

If you were like me in the late-1990’s, and you were getting into ripping CD’s, Napster, and internet radio, then you probably at some point used a little media player by the name of Winamp.

Flash forward 13 years, and I still use Winamp as my primary music listening and organizing program on my desktop. Problem is, I almost NEVER listen to my music collection from my desktop. Sure, my collection lives there, but I’m an audio engineer, so if I’m working, I’m probably not listening to music.

Winamp is still valuable to me though as a playlist creator, and I’ve always loved how it turns my ipod into a “drag and drop” music player. I really don’t like the iTunes interface for transferring music to my player. Plus Winamp gave me the ability to transfer music back OFF my ipod, which came in handy the one time I accidentally deleted my Foo Fighters collection…

Well now we get Winamp love on our Android handsets (2.1 or above), and I’m smitten all over again.

The app on the device itself isn’t remarkably different from any stock music player (or MixZing which has been my go to music player), but the interface is clean, and does take good advantage of a touch screen layout.  Bluetooth controls seem to be fully supported as well, as I had no problems firing up music, skipping, pausing, or controlling volume from my Jabra BT3030

Panels slide to reveal your playlist, or individual track info. Controls are docked at the bottom, allowing you to play/pause, skip, or repeat tracks from any view, and the Winamp icon takes you back to the Home screen.

The Home Screen gives you access to Albums, Artists, Individual songs, Playlists, your player history, and search (though search can also be accessed from any screen by pressing the search hardware button on your phone).

The home screen widget is one of the best I’ve ever seen. It’s a bigger one (taking up two rows), but it LOOKS LIKE WINAMP! Plus it gives you the same set of controls you would have from the track view of the app itself.

One more exciting feature of the app (especially for a beta) is the inclusion of a lock screen player. I use a lock on my phone, so every time I turn the screen off, a pattern lock is enabled. If I’m listening to music I have to unlock the device to change tracks or pause playback. Winamp circumvents this with a pop-up player window that allows you to control music playback without unlocking the phone. Other players like MixZing have this feature in the paid versions of their apps, but Winamp’s BETA includes this handy feature for free.

Now all this would be pretty great on its own, but this app also includes some decent desktop tricks. If you’re still using Winamp, you’ll get not only sync support (for music and playlists created in Winamp), but you can sync over Wifi. Not bad for a 13 year old media player…

Add to that, scrobbling support for you Last.fm users, and reports of ShoutCast support coming in future updates, and the Winamp BETA is shaping up to be a pretty formidable little audio player. I guess you can teach an old dog new tricks…

So to celebrate Winamp’s arrival to the year 2010, the first song I played with the app was Spacehog’s “In the Meantime”. What will you play first? Hopefully it’ll be ironically retro…

Enjoy!

Winamp for Android  Now in BETA (via Winamp blog)

 

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