Five Free Music Players For Android

Much has been said about Android's less-than-desirable stock music player.  While serviceable, the software is cumbersome to manage for large music collection and there's little in the way of extra features to play with.  Fortunately, there's a whole slew of apps ready to fill the role of a fuller-featured alternative.  Here are five of our favorite free music players from the Android Market:

Cubed. Sporting one of the prettiest interfaces we've seen on a music player, it throws up a three-dimensional cube that shows the album art on the face.  You can navigate your collection either by artist or album,  flicking vertically to spin the cube and horizontally to move through your artists in an alphabetical order.  The actual player's features are pretty standard, although they do offer a listing for upcoming shows for currently playing artists, which some folks should find useful.

Winamp. Yep, that same Winamp you probably had on your PC several years ago is available on Android.  It's got all the usual bells and whistles, along with some nifty additions, such as wireless syncing with your Winamp desktop library and built-in Shoutcast radio.

Songbird. I love Songbird on the PC, despite its many shortcomings.  While the desktop version tries to do too much for its own good, the Android version scales down hard, offering a very streamlined player that's notably clean and simple.  Extras include Facebook integration and a Flickr photo stream for the currently playing artists.

Meridian. While a Pro version of the app is available, the free one is advanced enough on its own that I've never bothered upgrading.   An all-around, feature-filled media app, it expands Android's file support, offers plenty of gesture-based actions (e.g. forwarding ten seconds through a song), bring up lyrics and delivers an overall higher usability experience than many similar titles on the Market.

MixZing. If you like iTunes' Genius, then you'll love MixZing, whose recommendation engine sits at the heart of its feature set.  As soon as you start playing a song, it will begin searching for 20 songs to recommend to your queue, which you can add or remove.  In case you'd like it to recommend songs out of your library, it has that, too, with track previews built into the interface for quick decision-making.  Other features include an equalizer, extra information about the artist playing and integration.

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