Finding that one perfect music player can be tough. Finding one that’s free? Nearly impossible. Sure, there are plenty of free apps that can do a lot – I’ve reviewed a number of them before – but it’s hard to call them perfect. Rocket Player has been my near-perfect choice for the past few months, but I recently found a successor: Shuttle Player.
One reason I love writing for MakeUseOf is all the user feedback I get in the comments. I’ve found so many new apps through recommendations and Shuttle Player is no exception. I would never have found this gem if it weren’t for Jarrod Bush, so shoutouts to him. And wow, what a find. This may just be the most polished free music player available on Android.
When it comes to actual music management, Shuttle Player doesn’t offer much in terms of innovation. That isn’t to say that there’s a lack of features, because there isn’t – you can do pretty much all that you’d expect an Android music app to do, like browse by different categories (artist, album, genre, etc.), add to playlists, add to queue, and such.
The thing that impresses me about Shuttle Player, then, is that it’s extremely clean and fluid. I’ve mentioned many times before that I’m using a dinky, old Galaxy S (the original). A lot of apps tend to stutter and freeze for me, but not Shuttle Player. Performance is a big issue for me and Shuttle Player delivers well in that regard.
I absolutely love Shuttle Player’s playback layout. For the first time in a long while, I feel like this music app truly understands what I’m looking for in music playback. There are no fancy “tap for an overlay menu” or “slide out a drawer for more options” gimmicks. Everything is laid out plain and all of the non-essential elements have been cut. If I had to describe it in one word, it’d be intuitive.
Shuttle Player has an internal Favorites playlist. It’s not a ground-breaking feature and I probably won’t use it all that much myself (since the only songs I put on my Android are those I already love anyway) but I could see it being useful. On the playback screen, all you have to do is tap the star in the corner to add the current song to Favorites.
Shuttle Player also has a queue of upcoming songs that you can view and edit. You can manually shuffle songs around using drag-and-drop, or you can delete them from the queue using a long-press. While browsing your music library, you can use long-presses to add individual songs to the queue, too.
In terms of features, Shuttle Player is all about providing a robust experience without relying on many bells and whistles. That much is evident in its list of features:
- Recently Played. In the music library, you can browse a category of songs sorted by how recently they’ve been played. It carries over from session to session, which is why I like it so much – it’s so easy to just pop back into a song from the last time you were listening.
- Lockscreen Controls. When your phone screen is in locked mode, you can still go back, forward, or play/pause without needing an unlock. This feature only works on ICS+. This feature also may not work if you’re using a custom lock screen, but it does work with DashClock.
- Album Art Download. If you want to fill out your library with proper album art, Shuttle Player can search and download them automatically from Last.FM.
- Widgets. Shuttle Player comes with three default widgets (2×1, 4×1, and 4×2 in sizes) that show currently playing song information and playback controls.
- Sleep Timer. Set a custom timer that counts down and stops music playback when it reaches zero.
- Equalizer. Shuttle Player comes with a 5-band Equalizer, DSP, and Bass Boost – and best of all, you can use all of them in the free version.
- Last.FM Scrobbling. For those of you who can’t help but share what you’re listening to with your friends.
For just $0.99 USD, you can upgrade Shuttle Player to Shuttle+, which includes a few extra perks:
- New Themes. The default theme is actually really nice and I’m completely satisfied with it, but Shuttle+ lets you enjoy three different themes.
- Tag Editing. I’m surprised this isn’t a free feature but it doesn’t irk me that it isn’t. Tag editing is fantastic for those of you who have the irresistible urge to keep your music organized.
- Folder Browsing. It hasn’t been implemented yet, but soon enough you’ll be able to browse your file folders instead of relying on the default music library.
So what’s the verdict? Shuttle Player is now my default music player. The free version is feature complete and does not have any ads. It’s not entirely innovative and it doesn’t pack a lot of eye candy, but it’s extremely polished and provides for a wonderful music listening experience. It definitely gets a high word of recommendation from me.