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Top Five Portable Music Apps for the iPhone

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If you’re a music lover, you know that your Apple iPhone can do double duty as both a phone and a music player. But which apps are best for playing your favorite tunes? It’s easy enough to use Apple’s built-in Music app to listen to tunes you’ve downloaded or ripped, there are other options when it comes to listening to music on your smartphone. In this article, Ultimate Digital Music Guide author Michael Miller presents his top five (plus one) music apps for the iPhone[md]and most of them are free!
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If you’re like most folks, you use your iPhone not just to make calls and text, but also to listen to music while you’re on the go. It’s easy enough to use Apple’s built-in Music app to listen to tunes you’ve downloaded or ripped, there are other options when it comes to listening to music on your smartphone.

Apple’s Music App (and Alternatives)

I’m not including Apple’s Music app in my master list of top five portable music apps – but because it’s pretty much baked into every iPhone via the iOS, it’s still worth talking about. That’s because most iPhone users will use the Music app to play back their downloaded/ripped music library; it’s the portable equivalent of the iTunes software you run on your personal computer.

The Music app plays back all the music you sync from your computer to your iPhone. It’s compatible with files in both the Apple AAC format and the universal MP3 format. It’s not compatible with Microsoft’s WMA-format audio files or files in the FLAC format, so there’s that. But for those users who are firmly entrenched in the Apple/iTunes ecosystem, using the Music app is a no brainer.

Figure 1 The iPhone’s native Music app, in Cover Flow view.

That’s not to say that you have to use the Music app. There are several third-party alternatives that will play the music files you sync from your computer. These include

  • Albums Tactile Music Controller ($1.99). This app takes an interesting approach to displaying your music library, spreading your album covers across a simulated onscreen table. Playing an album is as easy as tapping one of the virtual CD covers.
  • iAlbums (free). This app does a better job of fetching and displaying album covers than the native Music app. It also displays more information about a given song or artist, because it searches more than 20 music information resources. And if that wasn’t enough, iAlbums can download lyrics for most songs you listen to.
  • Musiconizer (free). What’s unique about this app is it lets you create a virtual app for any album in your collection, and then display an icon for that album on your iPhone’s home screen. Tap a home screen icon to launch the app and play the album.

Figure 2 The Albums Tactile Music Controller.

Figure 3 The iAlbums app.

Figure 4 The Musiconizer app.

To be fair, none of these apps does much more than the native Music app; in most cases, they just do it differently. Still, they’re worth checking out, just in case you like the way they do it better.

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