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During the holidays last year, my kids all wanted music players. I actually dislike the whole concept of a music player like an MP3 or an iPod; after all isn’t that the whole point of having a smartphone? If smartphones now come loaded with all sorts of amazing gadgetry and awesome features, like the ability to trace your location or locate cool restaurants around you, then why on Earth wouldn’t it be your first choice to listen to music?
Taking that argument a step further, shouldn’t a smartphone be capable of more than just listening to music? Shouldn’t it have the horsepower to manipulate music, or to manipulate the music-listening experience?
I know what you’re thinking – what’s he going on about now, right? What sort of wacky, harebrained idea is going to come from the mind of the guy that wrote about how to go ghost-hunting over the Internet?
Well, if you think about it, the idea of actually making better use of your phone to improve your music listening experience shouldn’t be that much of a stretch. Sure, an MP3 or iPod can store entire music libraries that you can listen to for hours, but how about timing the music to turn off automatically, creating your own music, or just doing funky things with sound? Well now, that’s where the magic of a smartphone comes into play.
Funky Music Apps for Android
If you own an Android, then you are very likely within the same demographic of gamers. And if you’re a cool gamer, the odds are good that you’ve played one or two of the games from the Grand Theft Auto series.
Well, do you remember the cool in-game music and soundtracks from those games? Yeah, I know – fast Latin beats, hard-hitting metal and of course deep-bass rap beats throughout. Well, now you can play that music right from your phone with the GTA Radio Player.
From the main screen, you just tap the game from the series that had the theme of music you liked the best, and the player will switch over to that radio station. If you liked multiple games from the series, you can just pick the one that suits your mood at the moment.
While writing this article, I decided to listen to the pounding metal beats of GTA IV.
Cover Art Downloader
So, an MP3 player can store thousands of songs into well-organized libraries or playlists, and you can play those playlists from start to finish with the touch of a button. Fine, but a smartphone can do that too. Even further, a smartphone can present that content to you in a more feature-rich environment, thanks to apps like Cover Art Downloader.
This app accesses a number of online databases to find cover art for the music on your phone. All you have to do is use the search tool to find the album.
Choose the right album, and it auto-magically replaces the default CD image with the correct cover art for that track. It’s very fast and easy to update all your music with the right cover art, and once you’re done it’s a lot easier to find the track you want by looking for the right cover art.
Another unique music app that is less about playing music and more about making it is one called Songify. The whole point of this app is pretty much described in the name – it is to “songify” anything at all that you record. The Songify app is one that will make for a really fun party novelty. Tap the screen and record someone saying anything at all.
Songify takes that sound, and then processes it and converts it into a song complete with actual background music. It’s a riot to play with – I spent way too much time testing it and making my kids laugh. It gets even funnier when you sing really bad into it and then see what the app does with your voice to try and make it sound semi-respectable in a song format!
I think one of the most interesting and unique apps of this entire list is one called Music Off. When you first launch it, it just looks like a basic timer app, but in fact its primary purpose is to turn off music once you’ve fallen asleep.
It does this by actually monitoring your movements, meaning that you need to keep the phone somewhere on your bed or couch that will sense when you move. If you select “Auto music off mode”, the motion sensor will drive when the music is turned off. The timer is actually just an added feature if you don’t want to use the motion sensor. You can keep the check box off and just set the timer. This worked like a charm with Pandora during my tests.
From my own tests, the app did in fact work as advertised, with a few caveats. You can set the sensitivity of the motion sensor in the Setting menu, and then test exactly how much motion will trigger the sensor. You know it’s triggered when the round circle to the right of the “Test Stop” button goes red.
My testing included moving the sensitivity to the maximum position, placing the phone right on top of my chest, while laying on my back, and breathing normally. No motion detected. As far as I know I wasn’t asleep.
If I lay there like that, not moving except for breathing and relaxing, the phone turns off prematurely. Now, maybe most people twitch, toss and turn when they’re trying to go to sleep at night, in which case this app will work for you with the sensor at max sensitivity. However, if you’re the type to just lay there peacefully and meditate your way into slumber, it may not work as expected. “Sensing sleep” through motion is not an exact science, to be sure.
To the defense of the programmer, not all phone sensors are created equal, and for what it’s intended to do, it works as well as could be expected. It is certainly a creative way to make use of music with your phone.
The last interesting music app I wanted to mention is one called AutoRap. AutoRap is nearly identical in function to Songify, except for two things. First, instead of turning your voice into a pop-song, it converts it into a rap tune that is actually pretty cool-sounding.
As it plays back to you, the screen pattern changes and your voice – in whatever form and length you recorded your snippet – gets fed back to you with a cool beat and electronically transformed into something that sounds hardly like your own voice, but well-timed to the beat and rhythm.
Also like Songify, you can share the newly created tune with your friends, or just save the file and move on to create a new tune. You can also change the beat, but the free version comes with a limited selection. If you’re prepared to lay down some cash though, you can create some pretty cool tunes.
As you can see, the world of music on a smartphone is very different than the well-structured world of music on a music player. With a smartphone, you get to manipulate, transform and otherwise go crazy with music in whatever way makes you happy.
So give some of these music apps for Android a try and let us know what you think. Do you know of any other unique and funky music apps for the Android? Share your feedback in the comments section below.
Image Credit: Touchscreen Smartphone via Shutterstock