We first told you about wonderful audio streaming service 8Tracks way back in 2008, showing it as a way to create mixes. The service popped up again a few years later, in 2011, as one of 7 online streaming services with no restrictions. Most recently, you may have caught wind of 8Tracks in our roundup of great tools for creating digital mixtapes. So it’s fair to say we’ve been tracking this streaming service closely over the years – and while it remains just as wonderful as ever on the Web, you may want to listen to it when you’re on the go… which is where InfiniTracks, an excellent and free 8Tracks mobile client, comes in.
What Makes InfiniTracks Different
InfiniTracks is far from the first Android app to offer music streaming. The 900lbs gorilla of the Android music streaming world is no doubt Google Play Music, with its recently launched Google Play Music All Access service. But that service costs $10 per month, while 8Tracks (and thus InfiniTracks) is entirely free.
Being free, however, is not the biggest differentiator here. What makes InfiniTracks worthwhile is the wealth of mixes available on 8Tracks, all curated by people. Whether you’re into classical music, electronica, heavy metal, or anything in between, you will likely find some great playlists to listen to. It’s like the world’s biggest mixtape swap meet, and InfiniTracks puts an inviting mobile face on it:
Following the trendy (and somewhat superfluous) three-step onboarding sequence, it’s time to listen to some tunes
Picking a Mix: History and Search
I’ve been an 8Tracks user for a few years now, so I logged in with my account, though that’s not an absolute requirement. Once in the app, you’ll see a Featured feed, as well as a number of other ways to find tunes to jam to:
Top-left you can see the mix. You can sort it by popular mixes, new ones, or hot ones, as well as filter by tags. On the top-right screenshot you can see the sidebar, a Holo design pattern that’s used for navigation throughout InfiniTracks. Makes it simple to get around the app.
If you have an existing account with some history, InfiniTracks lets you quickly browse mixes and tracks you’ve previously liked:
This may sound like an obvious feature, but it’s super-handy. If you come across a mix while listening to 8Tracks on your computer and favorite it, thinking “this is some great driving music,” well, now you can easily find it again and actually listen to it while driving. You can also favorite new mixes and songs from InfiniTracks.
Of course, the featured feed and your listening history won’t always do the trick. That’s where the search feature comes in:
You can access the search via the sidebar, but as soon as you start searching, you get a sophisticated results page showing not just mixes, but also tags, artists, and even 8Tracks users. Basically, if there’s something on 8Tracks that goes by that name, you’ll be able to track it down. Tracking down an artist is not so useful given 8Tracks’s terms of service (you can’t listen to entire albums by one artist), but searching for genres or moods works beautifully.
The Listening Experience
We got to the fun part. You found a mix, and it’s time to rock:
To the left you can see the in-app listening screen. Nothing but beautiful album art, artist info, and just two buttons. The infinity-styled progress “bar” is a nice touch: It gradually fills up as the song plays out. You don’t have to stay in the app, though: Feel free to turn off the screen or switch to some other app. On the right you can see the rich notification InfiniTracks displays whenever you’re outside the app. It surfaces the same exact information you get on the Currently Playing screen using a more compact layout.
Finally, when you navigate around InfiniTracks itself while listening to music, the Currently Listening screen collapses to a pretty bar at the bottom of the screen which you can swipe up to expand. All in all, a beautifully thought-out listening experience.
Settings and Tweaks
InfiniTracks strikes a fine balance between simplicity and customization:
To the left you can see the included Sleep Timer, which lets you listen to music and have it stop after some time elapses. A killer feature if you enjoy falling asleep to music. To the right is the Settings screen: You can decide what happens at the end of the mix, and even what to do when you pull the headphones out and plug them back in.
Not pictured is the built-in equalizer: This is off by default, but you can enable it and customize the listening experience to your own device and headphones combo, so that the music sounds just right for you.
A Beautiful Way to Jam to Unlimited Music
At the time of this writing, InfiniTracks is both polished and entirely devoid of any ads or nags. This is a rare combination – a very high-quality app that’s free and lacks ads. I would not expect this to last forever, so now is a great time to go ahead and grab InfiniTracks, whether or not you’re already using 8Tracks. Go check it out – this is one app you won’t regret installing.