Remember when a BlackBerry was simply a “pager?” Those days have been long gone for some time, yet I still know many people who don’t embrace their BlackBerry’s full potential. Even though many folks at Gear Diary, myself included, often carry a few different devices, I can assure you that you can use your BlackBerry as your primary MP3 player.
Today’s BlackBerry devices sport excellent features — and I’m gonna go there — sound just as good as an iPod or iPhone (sans dropped calls, of course ). While the stock music player does a great job, today we’re going to look at a few other options for media players for your BlackBerry — and battle it out to find the best of the best player for your own ‘Berry.
Let the smackdown begin…
1. The Stock BlackBerry Music Player
The stock media player that comes with your BlackBerry does a fine job handling your music library, album art, and playlists. It’s free, it’s right there, and it’s no-fuss, no-frills. By and large, this is the option that most BlackBerry users will naturally use.
The upcoming 5.0 BlackBerry OS release will provide a few additional improvements (screen shot below, courtesy of ZDnet), including an interface update that gives your album art more screen real-estate.
What I Like: Free music player that comes with every current BlackBerry model. The player handles album art, playlists, and all those features we all love on a dedicated MP3 player, like shuffle.
What Needs Improvement: I do love me some coverflow. The trackball (and the trackpad for new devices RIM wlll be putting out, like the 9700) make for easy navigation, so I’m still not sure why the default player hasn’t been updated to easily support album coverflow.
Conclusion: Tried and true, but lacking in pizazz.
What is nice about FlipSide is that it brings you album coverflow, artist bios and Last.fm integration. The Last.fm feature is called “scrobbling.” All that means is when a tune is listened to using FlipSide, the name of the song is sent to your Last.fm profile.
What I like: FlipSide gives you album-art coverflow and the ability to use the player to post songs to your Last.fm profile.
What Needs Improvement: The pricing may scare you away — it’s $9.95 for BlackBerry (and that is a big drop from the original $19.95 price, which is still what it will cost if you’re wanting to use FlipSide on a Windows Mobile handset). Lucky for you that you can get FlipSide for 15% off at the Gear Diary Software Store . Just use the code GDFallTweets at checkout. You can also try before you buy with a
Another peeve with FlipSide is that you can only download album art for each individual album, so it is time consuming if you have a large music collection. One of the biggest “downers” for me, however, is the fact that you can only control audio volume while you are in the application.
Conclusion: A worthy paid alternative with nice features that may appeal more to users of Last.fm.
from by was the first alternative BlackBerry player I purchased myself and used, beginning last year. MiuTunes gives users a very slick interface and provides an album coverflow feature that does closely mimic the iPod/iPhone’s own coverflow option. I also like that you can download album art at once within the application.
The only “peeves” I really have with MiuTunes is that the album art is small on my BlackBerry Bold’s screen when compared to using MiuTunes on a Curve; and, like FlipSide, I can’t control the audio volume outside of MiuTunes.
MiuTunes was originally a very steep $29.95, but is currently available for $9.99. Just like with other apps on the , you can save an additional 15% by using the code GDFallTweets during checkout. You can also try out MiuTunes with their .
What I Like: Visually appealing interface that gives users an album coverflow experience similar to the iPod/iPhone.
What Needs Improvement: Cannot control volume outside of the MiuTunes application. Compared to FlipSide, the album art coverflow is much smaller on the BlackBerry screen. The price may deter potential users (definitely give the trial a shot if you are interested).
Conclusion: If you’re looking for a premium music player interface, and are not deterred by the $9.99 price, MiuTunes will certainly fit the bill.
Unsynced is one of the newer BlackBerry music player apps, and is one I have been using regularly over the last few weeks. There is a lot to like in this application, starting with the price: free. Unsynced also lets you customize the skin of the application in Blue, Orange, or Pink:
You can also easily create playlists on the go by selecting multiple songs (and if you’re not 100% positive on adding a particular song, just pause over a song for a brief preview before adding). If you are a fan of podcasts, Unsynced will automatically provide bookmarks for long podcasts so you’re not stuck searching for where you left off. The application also promotes the ability to add music from any computer, not just the one at home — although, quite honestly this feature is one that has always been available on the BlackBerry; so I am not sure why this is listed as a feature specific to Unsynced.
While Unsynced has been named one of the, there are still a few criticisms for the application. Namely, and it is my biggest pet-peeve with any music player app, is (again) I can’t control the audio volume outside of the application. The second criticism is that Unsynced may not offer enough features to differentiate this player from the stock BlackBerry Music Player. Essentially, the features and interface give the user a nice and customizable (3 colors) skin.
Unsynced also has a feature to send song information to your friends; but all that is sent is an email or SMS text that provides the title of the song, and artist.
If Unsynced added some additional custom skins/themes for the application and provided the ability to control the volume (and even other features like skipping, pausing, etc. outside the app) I think more people may adopt it over the regular BlackBerry media application.
We’ve covered TuneWiki before. It was featured when it was in beta, and again after being officially released for BlackBerry users. Travis has also covered it for the iPhone/iPod Touch, and TuneWiki is also available for Android devices.
My original feelings on TuneWiki have not changed. I still believe any BlackBerry user will love this application. Not only does it give you a very nice music player, but TuneWiki also shows you the lyrics to the song. I’m not into kareoke, but this feature has been great for when you are debating a set of song lyrics with a friend.
There is a free version and a paid version ($4.99 without ads). Since the ads are unobtrusive, I’ve chosen to stay with the free version of TuneWiki.
- Download TuneWiki for Keyboard Blackberry Devices http://www.tunewiki.com/twbb
- Download TuneWiki for the Blackberry Storm
What I Like: Great interface that gives you album art as well as song-lyrics. Application is offered in both a free (ad supported) and paid version.
What Needs Improvement: Again, no volume control outside the application
Conclusion: This is one music player I have yet to remove on my BlackBerry.
Of course there have to be some criticisms with the 7digital application as well. If you have read this far, then you’ve guessed my first one: no way to control the volume outside of the application. Seriously, I use my BlackBerry for a lot of multitasking and the extra step of re-opening the application to turn up/down the volume (instead of simply using the dedicated volume buttons on the device) is a pain. Out of all of the applications reviewed, only the stock/default music player on the BlackBerry allows this functionality.
I suspect the application programming interfaces (APIs) for this are blocked so 3rd party developers are not able to add this feature to their own applications. If that is the case, I hope that RIM opens this up to 3rd party developers in the near future. The only other criticism I have with the 7digital app is that the album art is small, with the rest of the on-screen real-estate being taken to show the other songs on the album. While that is convenient to quickly move through songs, I’d like to see the interface updated in the next release to give a larger album art on screen (personal preference, I know).
While not a huge inconvenience, you will note that after you install 7digital your right and left convenience keys will be set to have your Left-key open the 7digital music store options to browse and purchase songs/albums, and the Right-key open/play your on-device music collection. This is only when you have 7digital open, but I quickly noticed it as I have one key set for QuickLaunch and another for Vlingo.
What I Like: Finally, a BlackBerry on-device music store app that includes a music player. It’s Free! Easy to search for/purchase music from your BlackBerry as well as play your existing collection.
What Needs Improvement: Give me the ability to control volume from within the application. I’d like to see the album art size increased (an update to the screen interface to help fit in the album art along with the song listing).
Conclusion: I highly recommend the 7digital application. The only thing better would be an on-device Amazon MP3 store ;) Get 7digital directly from BlackBerry App World.
Smackdown winners: When comparing each of these apps, you begin to see how far BlackBerry has come and how much media is being integrated into the devices. Honestly, you’re not going to go wrong with any of these apps. I think most folks will stick with the BlackBerry’s stock music player because it’s 1) already on the device, and 2) you can control the volume even when you’re outside the app
Given there are only two out of six apps requiring payment, I have to say my top two alternatives (and the two I feel improve the most on the default BlackBerry music player) have to be TuneWiki and 7digital. If you want some fun, and want to read the lyrics, you have TuneWiki; if you want to wirelessly purchase new music straight from your BlackBerry you gotta go with 7digital.
Me? I’m happy with having both on my ‘Berry