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.
1. 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)
2. Google Play Music
Google Play Music offers some pretty neat features, especially if you subscribe to the All Access service for $9.99 a month.
With Google Play Music All Access, you get to listen to stations. You can create those stations based off of a particular song or artist. Google has also created genre-based stations. You can see what songs are lined up to play next and reorder them if you'd like. There are no ads on those stations. Listen to a song or album and add it to your library. You can save music on your device for offline playback.
All Access has been around a bit more than a year at this point, and it will be interesting to see how it will change in the future to be competitive with the services that have been around a bit longer.
One other cool thing: you can rewind or jump ahead in the song by dragging the bar on the bottom while a song is playing.
You can add your music library to Google Play Music. Yes, it even plays nice with iTunes. The music you add from Google Play Music and the music already in your collection will be accessible from the same place.
If you'd like to test drive All Access, there's a 30-day trial available.
Download Google Play Music (Free app)
Of course, we can't forget about Pandora. Pandora gives you the ability to create radio stations based off of songs and bands. Just enter the name of the song or band in there and it will create a playlist with similar-sounding music. The service works without a subscription and it is ad-supported.
The app comes with a sleep timer and an alarm, which are pretty nice little features.
If you do decide to pony up $4.99 per month for Pandora One, you can get a few added bonuses. You get no ads, a higher bitrate and a special desktop application.
Download Pandora (Free)
Spotify is shaking things up in a couple different ways. It recently got a fresh coat of paint and now allows users to access services on mobile devices without a subscription.
Spotify now also offers playlists based on moods, activities and events.
There's a special social emphasis with Spotify, with users being strongly encouraged to use friends' playlists to help them discover music and share what they're listening to on social media sites.
You can listen to specific albums. Spotify also has certain genre stations prepared.
With a $9.99 monthly Premium subscription, you get some added perks, like no ads.
Download Spotify (Free)
5. TuneIn Radio
TuneIn Radio is also an Editors' Choice app on Google Play.
Sometimes there are things you can only hear on local (or "terrestrial") radio stations. TuneIn lets you listen to streaming radio stations from all over the globe.
You can also listen to podcasts.
You can "follow" stations ("followed" stations were known as "favorite" stations in previous versions of the app). You can also set TuneIn to stream custom URLs.
Upgrade to TuneIn Radio Pro for a one-time fee of $3.99 to remove banner ads and gain the ability to record your stations.
Download TuneIn Radio (Free)
Download TuneIn Radio Pro ($3.99)
There are some big terrestrial radio station companies that don't stream on TuneIn, like giants Clear Channel and Cumulus. However, they do stream stations live on the iHeartRadio app.
In addition to being a bit like TuneIn, iHeartRadio is also similar to some other services we mentioned with playlists/stations based off of activities, events and moods. It's also a bit like Pandora in the sense that you can craft stations based off of a particular band or song.
You can expect advertisements on iHeartRadio.
Download iHeartRadio (Free)
Please tell us what you think. Do you enjoy using some of our favorites? Do you prefer using other services we didn't mention? How come? We look forward to reading your thoughts!