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Winamp for Android
The arrival of a Winamp application on Google's Android platform has come as something of a surprise. The somewhat forgotten Windows music application first saw the light of day as a Beta, But has not reached maturity. The app is available for free in the in the Android Market. What might be even more surprising is that the application by itself is definitely not one to take lightly, as many good features from the desktop version are translated into their Android equivalent. The result is therefore a rather pleasant addition to the increasingly populated music application landscape on Android.
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Look and Feel of the Application
As mentioned, the Android version of Winamp inherits a lot of elements from its desktop counterpart. This becomes immediately apparent when first opening the application. The overall look of the application will seem familiar for everyone that has ever used Winamp before.
The classic Winamp icons, both the lightning and Lama, are prominent on the opening screen. The lightning button even functions as the home button, in order to return to the home screen. The grey color scheme is also present, adding considerably to the nostalgic element of Winamp on Android. Coincidentally (or maybe it isn’t), the color scheme pretty much matches that of the overall stock Android system, making Winamp fit in seamlessly.
The overall look of Winamp for Android pretty much perfectly fits its features and usability and presents a clean, easy on the eye, interface, that will appeal to Winamp devotees or non-devotees alike. Even though it is a bit of a cliché to say so, the overall look and feel of Winamp for Android is close to what the native music player should be like.
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Features and Functionality
The features of the Winamp for Android application are mostly similar to other Android music applications, but do offer a few extras as compared to others. Although the Beta still showed a few shortcomings at first, the matured version has cleaned out most of these, which clearly shows the good intentions of making Winamp on Android a powerful contender in the music scene.
The Home screen of the application includes the following buttons, which pretty much describes the core functionality of the application:
- Free Music
What makes these features even more compellingic is that Winamp is good at what it does. This has been the case with the desktop version and is now true for the Android version of the app. One pretty ingenious feature is the integrated now-playing dock, that if retracted shows just the title of the song playing with play duration. Once opened, the dock shows the full now playing screen, with all the usual details. This dock is available at all times, and is probably the easiest and most intuitive way of accessing the current playing song ever presented in a music application on Android.
The application can sync wirelessly with Winamp software installed on the desktop, which is obviously a Windows-only feature. Furthermore, the application enables the user to scrobble with Last.fm, which by now has become a pretty standard feature, and presents a lock screen player option, which is a nice addition.
With the arrival of the final version, Winamp has added a shoutcast feature, which greatly increased the overall legitimacy of the application. Better even, the application now has a 'Free Music' section with a small list of free songs. Although no major artists seem to be respresented here (remeber it is free!) there is some stuff to explore, which can be especially nice when you get bored with your own playlist.
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Usability of the Application
With the before-mentioned dock as the core of the application, Winamp is one the most usable music applications available in the Android Market. Within the entire application it is possible to return to the now-playing screen at all times, without losing what was going on before. The song controls are also visible and usable at all times, which adds to the general ease of use.
Just like with the desktop version of the application, the strongest aspect is without a doubt the play queue. Songs can be added to the playing queue at all times, creating a somewhat instant playlist. Swiping songs around in the play queue is extremely easy and a pleasant experience, making playlist creation and alteration an unmatched aspect of the Winamp application. A nice extra touch is also the ‘extras’ field when long pressing a particular song. Through this option, a song can be searched for in Last.fm, on the Internet, in Winamp or on YouTube.
The concept with which Winamp tries to break into the music player scene on Android is obvious and definitely seems to work well. In terms of usability the application definitely has an advantage over many of its alternatives in the Android Market.
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WInamp for Android, A Step in the Right Direction
I have no reservations classifying Winamp for Android as a great music app. Taking the entire concept into account there is no denying that Winamp is strong contender amongst all music applications currently available in the Android Market. There are still a few rough edges and many user will still want to go for any of the available options with an EQ. However, considering the work that has been done on Android's Winamp version since its BETA iteration, there is surely many improvements yet to come. Until then, I highly doubt that many will be disappointed with what Winamp for Android has on offer as of now.
Winamp for Android is available for free in the Android Market.