As we all know, the default Android music player is basic to say the least. A good music player is something that the Android platform has been lacking for a long time. Many third-party apps like the ‘3’ music player have tried to improve it, but they all have their own problems and I’ve never really liked any of them enough to stick with them. Purely by accident, I think that I’ve found the perfect music player for Android, and it’s called MixZing.
MixZing might seem ordinary at first glance, but upon closer inspection, you’ll find it has some features that you won’t find in your typical music player.
You notice the first of these as soon as you open the app:
There is a menu item titled ‘Videos’. You might be thinking “So what if it lets you access your videos in the same app as your music? That’s convenient, but not amazing”. Well, this isn’t just for convenience, MixZing has a feature called ‘video bookmarks’ which is quite literally what the name suggests. If you’re watching a video and you have to stop watching it, press the back button, and MixZing will remember where you got to. Then, when you play the video again, you’ll have the option to continue from where you left off. That’s more than just convenience. That’s brilliant.
Then we get into the music features. Unlike the standard Android music player, MixZing automatically downloads album art for your music by looking at its ID3 tags. For me, it has never got a song incorrect, and can even find the album art for music by more obscure artists. For example, it found and downloaded the album art for a song by Kitsune² (Google him, he does electronic music and he’s pretty good). As you can see from the screenshots, it displays album art at a much larger size to the standard Android music player. Most of the time, this makes the art look great, but there are some occasions where it gets pixelated.
The music player itself has a clean interface. There are five buttons at the bottom of the screen, of which three are your standard play/pause, previous track and next track (which can also be held down to fast forward and rewind) buttons. The other buttons are used as a part of another feature, recommendations. It’s a lot like the ‘Genius’ feature used in iTunes and iPods. Unfortunately, due to my small music library, I was not able to test this feature out, although my research into comments and other reviews indicates that it works well.
There are three other buttons at the top of the screen. On the left is the info button, which will bring up some information about the artist/band you are currently listening, in the middle is the Title/Artist/Album display which when pressed allows you to do a search for the song. Finally, in the top-right, there is the Queue button, which allows you to see what’s about to be played.
For me though, there are two features that really set MixZing apart from the competition. The first of these is the lock-screen widget: if you lock your phone while music is playing, it will bring up a panel showing the album art, and the three basic controls (play/pause, next song, and previous song). You can also just touch anywhere on the album art to play/pause your music, which is handy if you don’t have an in-line remote for your device.
ID3 Tag Editor:
The second feature is the reason why I found MixZing in the first place: the ID3 Tag Editor. Basically, if you have any music in your library that is tagged incorrectly, or even if you want to change it to make it easier to organise, you can do that, no problem at all. It’s a neat feature that actually proves to be incredibly useful, although bear in mind that it only works with MP3 files.
There is, however, one caveat to the last two features. MixZing is an application that is ostensibly free, but there are limitations. Firstly there are ads in the library menus and on the player screen. These are fine to deal with, and you can shut them if you want to. The main downside to the free version though, is that lock-screen widget and tag editor will disable themselves after three days unless you buy a premium license.
A license costs $6.99, which isn’t too bad, but for a music player some might consider it too much.
Don’t think you can pirate it, either. MixZing actually requires validation of the license, using the order number generated by Google Checkout. This is such a simple idea, but it is incredibly effective at stopping piracy.
I was interested in what my money would be going towards, so I contacted the developers, and I got a response. In short, they are improving the features they already have, but in a big way. For example, they plan to improve the tag editor by adding a music ID function. This would automatically detect if a song has missing or incorrect tags, and fix them, instead of relying upon a user to edit tags themselves. This is incredibly similar to how Shazam identifies music, and we all know how well Shazam works. They also plan to add lyric functionality, but instead of just pulling them from a lyrics website, they will actually be going one step further and using fully licensed lyrics. This is why you need to pay a premium, but if these features are implemented well, it will surely be worth it.
So at the end of the day, MixZing is superb. Whether you pay for a license or just use the free version, it’s a joy to use and, in my opinion, the best music player on the market.
Summary of features:
- Video bookmarks allow you to start from where you left off
- Album art downloads automatically and looks beautiful (for the most part)
- Clean interface that only shows shuffle, repeat and track progress when you want to see it.
- Recommendations take the concept of Apple’s Genius one step further
- Lock-screen widget is a superb feature
- ID3 Tag Editor
- Upcoming features including licensed lyrics and MusicID
- Free and paid versions, a license unlocks full use of the lock-screen widget and tag editor, as well as removing ads
Head over to the Android Market and download MixZing now or simply use the QRCode below.
How much does it costs again?
- $Free for the limited version
- $6.99 to upgrade to the full version
Once you play with it, let us know what you think!