Streaming Music

Streaming may be increasing in popularity, but which Android apps should you use?

We know there are plenty of streaming apps out there for Android. Each one comes with pros and cons (as everything else in life does). And the streaming app that best suits your needs might vary from one moment to the next. Say you want to listen to local stations for local news and weather information one moment. You may just want to have some music playing in your office that will be uninterrupted by commercials the next moment. Different apps will better fulfill those different needs.

Join us for an overview of some of the best streaming apps out there.

Slacker Radio

Slacker Radio

Slacker Radio is one service you don't normally hear too much about. It offers plenty of options, though, and it's what powers Samsung's Milk music service.

There is the free service, which plays ads (including some video ads). It offers a limited number of song skips. You can listen to stations suited to certain events or activities.

The $3.99-a-month subscription gets rid of those ads and song skip limitations. It also allows you to download full stations onto your device for offline playback.

And $9.99 monthly gives you an experience similar to that of Spotify in the sense that you can play songs and albums on demand, all without commercials. It also enables you to create playlists and download those playlists on your device for offline playback.

ABC News, ESPN and NPR stations are available on Slacker.

Download Slacker Radio (Free app)

 

Reader comments

The best streaming music apps for Android

118 Comments

Wasn't this just talked about the other day? Spotify and MilkMusic is pretty much it for me

Posted via Android Central App

I think you are refering to AndroidPolice's poll ;)

Posted from Germany via Android Central App on my Moto X.

I've used rdio, deezer and now I'm on GPMAA, which I really like. Except for the name, of course.

Posted via Moto X

My All Access is nice, but I wish it had a feature to select certain artists for a shuffle radio station like Pandora does. I select Start Radio on one artist and it just kind of ends up sucking!

Posted via Android Central App

You can do that. Make a playlist with the type of artists (add the albums) you want in the radio station. Instead of playing the playlist, hit the dots & select Start Radio. We have a playlist of music we like to called Home to play in the evenings via Chromecast, but if we want to listen to more broad & here new music, we select the Home Radio Station that is based on our Home playlist. Works pretty good for it will play some music from the playlist and add others that are like it.

I use the pay version of Spotify. It lets you listen to any song, past or present. Its great if a new album comes out. You can instantly listen to it.

This navigation decision is he 2nd biggest offender since the "gallery".

Please give us an option to "View as one page".

Now that is off my choice: Spotify for me. Wanted to give Google music a try but I need offline mode across all devices as I'm overseas in a place where internet is abysmal more than it's not.

i second your opinion on the navigation. One of the reasons that AC has been so good is that it packs a lot of info on one page and doesn't just want pageviews for ad revenue.

As long as you're only using devices and not a computer, GPAA can do offline to all your devices.

Posted via Android Central App

I third your opinion on the navigation. It was OK when there was a "One Page" button, but now that that's gone, so am I.

I want to apologize first for my ignorance but what is this one page button? I love GPAAM by the way!

You used to not have to click through to the next page to see the next part of the article. I love Bleacher Report but also hate it for this same reason. I often skip much of the article because of the navigation and now I'm doing it here also. Bring back single pages!!!!

I read about Slacker radio only, as I refuse to navigate all those pages.
Guys....Android Central is good, but not so good as for tolerating this pagination nonsense. I can get Android news in places that are about as good, but don't force me to paginate. It's your decision.

I fourth this. Especially the last click for two sentences on what I think on "page 8". This could have easily been a single page or just as easily given us a view as one page option. I've seen way more content displayed beautifully on one page that was more elegantly delivered than this obvious click for ads stunt. I stopped using sites that got greedy for clicks like this, it is unnecessary and just flat out greedy. What the h@// happened to this site, on my ipad 1/3 of the screen is content and 2/3 of the page is ads. There are more ads in your face than on some of the "darker" places on the internet.

Totally agree. I can't stand these changes. It's actually a pain to visit the site now. As I've said many times before, I love the "content". I much prefer substance over style.

Totally agree, the header was OK, nut in my opinion is just eye candy and added no substance. The other issues with click throughs, pop overs and pagination for more clicks absolutely BLOWS. What happened to this site? I guess monetization is their number one goal vs providing information in a clean, clear and helpful manner.

You all are so right. I haven't visited the site in a while since I just use the app. But I had to check it out and I don't like it at all. The only thing I like about it is the way the comments look. Other than that, there's way too much clutter on an articles page, the right side is just filled with stuff. And I didn't even bother trying to go to the next page to see more music services...I know that it'd bug the hell out of me.

Posted via Android Central App

100% agree on the pagination issue. Not to mention the RSS truncation and the new throw it against the wall and see what sticks editorial approach. How many garbage posts can one man stand?

I was wondering about all the posts from non AC writers. I mean, some guest posts from other related blogs is always welcome but it seems that they just post anything someone gives them these days.

Yeah i want to get my vote in for crappiest navigation ever! Come on AC.. you are better than this BS type of ad click nonesense. Everyone knows that is the ONLY reason to have this garbage is ad revenues. Find another way cause seriously i am about done here. It used to be a great place to come, now its just way to "corporate"

You guys might be the laziest piles of poo ever. It's such a pain to click a button or two on your smartphone devices. Smh.

I did not know piles of poo can be lazy. Well anyway, while I may be a lazy pile of poo, I am, however, one hell of a pile of poo. You should get to know me. I kind of stink often, but I'm the shit. Seriously, we should hang out sometime.

Posted via Android Central App

1. The issue is on the desktop version and thats what most people are bitching about.
2. its not lazy. its the fact that i have to reload a page and all the ads EVERY time i go to another paragraph almost. People dont like this for many reasons but their hand hurting from hitting a button is not the issue. Its AC getting all corporate up in here and trying to squeeze ad clicks out. The term "click bait" could be aptly used
3. Seems like you are in the minority, so really, dont think we really care what your opinion is. piss off.

I agree. I can't stand how it isn't all on one page. We are not in the days of dial up where it takes forever to load content. Make the articles one page again please.

Google is my choice simply cause it was already installed. The radio based off taste has been pretty bad and I wish there was a way to see progress on music being downloaded for offline use.

Posted via Android Central App

There is that option to see download progress. settings > View download queue. The more you use the app and like songs, the better the radio gets.

I love my Spotify, totally free to listen to anything on my computer and it does a great job of choosing songs I like when using the free service on the app. I also love how easy it is to find and listen to other people's playlists.

Tunein is definitely my choice as a radio app. I love being able to record my morning show and listen to it throughout the day as I have time.

I use TuneIn. For the price for the pro version you cannot beat it.

Posted via Android Central App

Google Music All Access is my app and service of choice. I signed up early enough that I pay 7.99 a month for it. I came from Napster/Rhapsody, and Google's service is better by far. I honestly never use the radio stations (never have, which is why services like Pandora and iHeartRadio don't appeal to me) -- I make my own playlists and sync them across all devices. I did try Spotify, but when I wanted to switch to them, they were a Facebook only login, so they lost me there -- Google beat them to the punch in offering the kind of service I wanted, so I went with Google.

Malfoy -- Google Music has offline access to any music you store on your device, but for offline access to music you don't own, you have to pin playlists or radio stations to each device separately.

Has anybody spent much time with Amazon's Prime music service yet? I played around with it for a bit yesterday, and the search seemed to be poorly implemented, and a lot of the music I searched for was only available for purchase rather than instant streaming.

Don't get me wrong, if I had Prime I would be happy to get the limited service. It's just not enough to turn me or most anyone else on to Prime.

First a precursor...
At&t and Verizon are the biggest US providers. I'm going to guess they hold a good 70+ % of the market. Neither of these two providers offer unlimited data. Thus, how does every Android (or mobile) review consistently ignore the stream rate? Doesn't the ability to listen to more than 30 minutes of radio a day make a feature?

That said, I used to use tunein (bitrate varies by channel) and Pandora (64kbps).

Unfortunately, Pandora has a more limited selection of music I like (and a knack for replying the same 20 songs, despite their larger selection). Tunein just redesigned their app to be Facebook music, and tried to sneak in some permissions to steal and sell your data . Thus, I'm at a loss for good options.

Several of these options allow you to download the music on to your device. I know Spotify does, and you can choose to download higher quality files than you would get from streaming. You just have to go back "online" within the 29 day window. I downloaded my favorite playlists while connected through wifi, and then turn on the offline mode. No data usage that way. :)

Google Play allows this as well. I use it all the time so that I can listen to music and podcasts while flying. It also allows you to select the bitrate quality for streaming.

With Spotify you can have offline playlists so you don't use your dataplan. Don't know how it is with the other services...

Most of these apps default to a "low" variable bitrate stream while using mobile data (64-128 kbps). Then, premium/subscribers can increase the bitrate if they so desire, and they are warned accordingly that doing so will greatly increase data usage.

Also, most people with AT&T and Verizon actively seek out wifi whenever possible, and pin or download most-used playlists to their devices, mitigating the effect of high streaming usage.

Thanks. I'll have to check some of their lower rates... I'm without a good option right now, one of these could be a good alternative. :-)

There are still a lot of us on verizon with unlimited, and most of the reviewers on sites like this get their phones off contract so it's easy to overlook. I think about it sometimes, but all three of my verizon phones are unlimited so I know it's easy to forget about caps. But like several have said, there are pre download and save yo device options.

GPM All Access is my player of choice, but I'm also using Songza and Rdio. I have used Pandora, iHeart, and Slacker, but I keep going back to GPAA. The only one that I have not used is Spotify.

Posted via Android Central App

i prefer to use 8tracks
you can choose playlists, searching by tag or name or genre or even artist. the playlists are made by other people, and they are usually pretty good. :)
Sent from my Nexus 4
p.s. and this costs nothing

I am currently using beats...mainly due to the family subscription pricing through at&t. It started out pretty rough but after a buttload of updates it is working great (finally got landscape mode too). I was using Google play all access before which was great but don't need to pay for more than one subscription.

If you like electronic music I highly recommend digitally imported...its my app of choice for music at the gym.

Posted via Android Central App

Google Play Music is an awesome service with a bad app. Google needs to hire someone who knows about shuffle algorithms.

I'm using Spotify. It has always worked and I don't see any reason for switching. Everyone I know use it as well so it's easy to share songs and playlists.

I use Xbox Music, mostly because I came over to Android from Windows Phone and because it's available in Canada unlike many of the others.
It has it's flaws but, generally, I like it.

I know it is still new, but Prime Music should have had a mention in this article.

If you are already an Amazon Prime customer, the new Prime Music is a pretty sweet deal. If you have been buying your digital music from them for a while, it makes a great mashup between that already purchased content and stuff you have not yet purchased but now have access to listen to by streaming.

The app itself does need some maturing yet, but I'm certain it will get there.

Like all things streaming though, unless you have an old grandfathered unlimited data allowance, beware your data limits.

Spotify and Slacker are my two go-to streaming apps. Slacker has the best genre stations and the easy ability to ban a song or an artist. Spotify has the best selection of artists and albums and the ability to make and share playlists. I use this at work a lot and lately will search for live/concert albums and listen to a whole show, which is cool while I'm trapped in my cubicle. Pandora is the best for an artist-themed station, but even then, I've found it doing some crazy things. I use Songza occassionally, but the one thing about that is the playlists are fixed and don't change. And I don't do terrestrial radio anymore. I'd rather pay a small price to kill the ads and have total control.

No one ever puts the SiriusXM app on these lists. Its great. The customization & options are really nice. Not to mention all the non music channels. Between SiriusXM & Google Play Music I'm covered!

Posted via Android Central App from my Ebony backed Moto X

Much as I love SXM, they are really freakin' expensive. And the last time I used their app it was absolutely horrible, no idea how it's changed in the past 8 months I haven't used it though.

Posted via Android Central App

What about Beats Music?... I've used Spotify, Play Music, and Pandora in the past. I was a big fan of Play Music and it's still a favorite, but the cost of using that for multiple members of my family adds up. Then I tried Beats for free for 3 months and I'm hooked. Plus it's only $15 a month for my whole family on AT&T. You can't beat that price, for that functionality! Until Play Music or Spotify can match that, I will stick with Beats.

Posted via Android Central App

I totally agree with all of that. Except I just can't stand the beats music app. The family deal with att is one of the best, however.

Posted via Android Central App

Tried the "free" beats trial, they billed me three days into it. Cancelled and went with Spotify.

Posted via Android Central App

I think I've used about every one of those services. I keep coming back to Rhapsody.. I love it. It works on all platforms and I can get my music from anywhere. I don't mind paying 9.99 a month.

You have to add Amazon Music. I have been using it every day since release and it really is a good service right out of the gate. Especially if you like older music from the 80's and 90's.

I use Tune In Plus (paid version) and iheart Radio for my listening pleasure.
And of course Pandora. I find these suit me better. I am not all that interested in what music my friends are listening to.

Posted via Android Central App

IHeart's latest update has brought a few good changes. Liked Milk Music a lot, but only for Samsung devices. TuneIn has gone completely to the left with its latest updates.

I currently use Spotify, but after reading this ill give Pandora, Songza, and TuneIn Radio a try.

Posted via Android Central App

I use Pandora regularly but find the ads seem to be more intrusive every day. Songza is awesome, as is Slacker, and I'd love to try GPMAA but I've no money to spend on it. Rhapsody was my absolute favorite for a long time too.

Posted via Android Central App

I found this article to be relatively uninformative, with information anyone could get just by reading the summary box on each service's website or app description. No comparison done by the author, really. i was expecting some analysis and perhaps a head to head chart with services and features. Instead, I get (basically) 8 paragraphs, over 8 pages. really? Lousy article and horrible presentation.

I agree. I think I've read more info in the comments than in the actual article. I use and love Spotify, but am always looking to see if there is something with better features.

Well, I really like to use SirusXM but their app is awful. Like just truly bad. If you'd like to write an app review sometime you could spotlight their app and maybe some media attention would get an update that it deserves.

I like Amazon's new Prime music streaming; I can select artists/albums/individual tracks to listen to rather than 'curated' playlists I have no control over. Once they get more selection and labels on-board I think it'll really take off.

I use Beats and sirusXM. Using 10minutemail.com every time the trial ends I put in a new throwaway email. Also Tunein is the best for local talk radio

Posted via Android Central App

I am so surprised that Rhapsody was not mentioned. They have been around the longest, and it is great to be able to down load albums to my device to listen to in the car when coverage is low. Great service.

Oh and Songza is very slow and won't connect after about an hour of streaming. Driving and having this on is a pain in the ash cause it basically gives gives the spinning wheel... Very frustrating

Spotify for me, Rdio and SoundHound are also worth a mention I think.
Rdio supports Chromecast and works pretty much as a Motorola Stream?
SoundHound has music recognition that meets higher standards than Google Now.

Edit: Deezer is also a good choice

Used to use songza a lot. Maybe I'll get back into that. 4 bucks a month for a premium songza seems a bit much for what you get however. And 4.99 a month for premium Pandora seems a bit much too, for what you get. Been using Spotify cause you can just add any song you want to any playlist and then shuffle it for free. That's all I need!

Posted via Android Central App

What are you all streaming? Personal files (video/music) and/or radio?

For Internet radio, I use Xiialive (best shoutcast alternative!)
For House and Electronic music, I use Digitally Imported app! BEST APP EVER!!!
For commercial/local radio, I use either Tune-In or iHeart Radio.
Pandora for anything else. Songza have tried. Spotify I need to try out.

I don't use cloud service due to the fact that I don't want to depend on it to hear music or watch an HD video. This would suck since I spend a lot of time underground in the train stations here in NYC. This is why I prefer big sd card storage size! :)

I've pretty much used or tried all of these, but Slacker is my go-to choice. Back in 2009, I bought two Slacker G2 mp3 players that download my Slacker stations to the G2s. I keep one permanently in my car, and the other hooked up to my whole home stereo system. The G2s refresh the stations automatically via wifi, and there are no ads (other than an occasional "You're listening to 80s, 90s and Today on Slacker Radio") I'm really lucky both have lasted for over 5 years, and allowed me to cancel SiriusXM.

As far as curated stations, I prefer Slacker to Pandora, cause the music Slacker plays just seems more" right".

Sick of apps not being available in my country. This is England ffs not some 3rd world country

Posted from my 2013 nexus 7, yeah baby!

If you made me pick one and only one streaming service, I'll go Pandora every day. My personal collection is enough if you're going to make me pick exactly what I want to listen to (that's why it's in my collection!).

I've used about every app out there for music, XiiaLive rules for radio streaming (shoutcast) and Google Music at the introductory price lock is something I'll never regret. My life is all about music, has been for over 40 years, my collection is diverse. Everything I own that cannot be found on Google Music is uploaded to GM, a big bonus. The only thing that would make GM better is a darker theme and a "shuffle my collection" from the home screen. A quick EQ setting and the ability to play just the tunes that are stored on my device (when outside a internet connection) would be nice too, but having the PowerAmp app is a must as well.

I currently pay for Slacker, GPMAA, and Spotify. I find myself using Slacker for the downloadable stations while traveling. Their stations almost always fit my moods perfectly. I may however revert to the free edition because I haven't been traveling as often as I used to. I use GPMAA for myself, but I wished it had a bit of a facelift. I will be keeping it as I really enjoy the service. I use Spotify probably the most. My wife also shares my subscription as she uses it even more than I. I want to use GPMAA more, but it hasn't been as quick as Spotify.

Are there 3rd party music apps that can tap into the Google Play Music All Access service? I have GPMAA service, but am not a big fan of the Google Play Music App--seems very buggy to me.

I came across TuneIn looking for a local radio station. Great mix of local and online streaming station that makes the work day go by quicker

I went with premium Spotify after Mog shut down mainly because I am a Led Zepplin fan and only Spotify has them.

Posted via Android Central App

I used to use TuneIn Pro, but I wasn't happy with what they've done to the interface when they redesigned it. I've since switched over to XiiaLive. I think it works just about as well as TuneIn, and I actually like the interface even more than the old TuneIn interface. 2 other big pluses: flip between favorites using "forward" and "reverse" buttons, and access to Clear Channel stations - no longer need iHeartRadio app either. It's not perfect, but definitely not bad.

I think Spotify is best. You can create your own playlists and you can even download music for offline listening if you prefer. It is easy to use, plus I like the dark design. I recommend Spotify if you want one of the best streaming service for music !