Friday, 4 January 2013

Motorola Connected Music Player replaced by TuneWiki, loses SoundHound

Note: this story is very Motorola-centered.

TuneWiki eats Connected Music Player

Bought a Motorola Android phone? It probably came preloaded with a music app called Connected Music Player. This Jack of all trades plays the music stored on your memory card, grabs lyrics from TuneWiki, identifies songs with SoundHound, plays FM radio and SHOUTcast streams, and connects to YouTube music videos too.

Surprise: the Google Play Store has an update! It's called TuneWiki-CMP and replaces the music app that came preloaded on your Motorola gadget. Well, sort of.

Connected Music Player was not a very good music player to begin with. Instead of focussing on the core business (playing music, and playing it well), the makers chose to bloat their app with gimmicks that get old real quick. Update or not, it still can't sort your music by genre or folder. This doesn't matter if you only have a few dozen songs on your phone, but if you have a thousand tracks and the number of albums and artists runs in the hundreds, sorting by artist, album, or title is not enough.

Useless feature in, useful feature out

The update adds a gimmick that turns lyrics into artistic text, which nobody will use. Unfortunately the built-in SoundHound search is missing from the update.

The update reminded me to remove this piece of bloatware from my phone. I replaced it with a few apps that only do one job, and do it good.


Surprisingly, there are not many good free music players out there. My default music player is PlayerPro, but there's no free version. The free version of WinAmp has SHOUTcast radio built in, but is rather crippled anyway. For example, WinAmp want money for its equalizer, gapless playback, and to play online audio streams. RealPlayer and doubleTwist don't cut it either. Google Play Music censors songs with explicit lyrics when you try to store them in the cloud, but it plays your locally stored music the way the artist intended, expletives included. Google Play Music is the best totally free music player on the Play Store, but there's a better app outside the Google app store. For a completely free no-nonsense app that sorts your music by mp3 tags and folders and just plays music this version of MIUI Music is the best option, even though it's old.

My radio streams come from TuneIn Radio. You may want to control this app by switching off the run-at-boot and bluetooth state autorun triggers, or else it starts eating data behind your back. But when you tame it with apps like Gemini App Manager or ROM Toolbox then TuneIn behaves well.

The Google Play Store is remarkably short on FM radio apps. My radio app of choice is the stand-alone FM radio app from Motorola, which you can download from xda.

You can get SoundHound from the Google Play Store, or use Shazam, or TrackID. These apps tap into different databases, so if you want to improve your chances of tagging some obscure track nobody ever heard about just install all three apps.

That's a lot of apps instead of the single Connected Music Player, but each of these apps outperforms the music app that Motorola preloaded on your phone.

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