DoubleTwist on Android

The stock media player in Android is somewhat notorious and because of that the market is flooded with alternatives. Now another player steps in, DoubleTwist. After using it a couple of days I decided to make a little summary…

DT start up
Default view

Frist impression: This app looks good! Clean interface with smooth graphics which is a whole lot better than the stock one.

Double Twist play view
Neat play view

When it comes to features it’s not much to say, it will play your music, videos and podcast and has the standard sorting of Artists, Albums, Songs and Playlists. Note for all of you that has been dying to get an equalizer…keep on waiting. DoubleTwist doesn’t really bring anything new to the table and lacks some features that can be found in other players (last.fm, internet radio and so on). The two things that I miss the most though is a Widget (if I didn’t use widgets I could’ve gotten an iPhone) and decent edit/create playlist functionality. If I’m to summarize it in one sentence it would be that it does what I expect of a standard media player, but it does so looking good.

A quick update gave us the option to disable the headset controls which is good, if you’re using different audio apps for different purposes the lack of such option could make DoubleTwist start playing over your Google Listen podcast for example. Other than that the only option is “Enable automatic massstorage”. Not a lot of flexibility but on the other hand I can’t think of other options that I feel is a must have.

This is a early version of the player and that will sometimes show…many users have reported issues with it not reading the music on the device properly. Missing parts of tags, not finding all files in an album etcetera. I haven’t had any such problems, it even handles Swedish letters properly which the stock player doesn’t always do. Overall this is a neat start but future development is what will decide if this is a new Android favorite or just another player among many. I’m looking forward to see how it goes, especially when it competes with the updated stock player.

Part two, the Desktop version and the wish to give you an “Apple Experience” but with Android

DoubleTwist comes in a desktop version as well, for both Windows and Mac (Linux is not supported…so far). This player has great synchronizing abilities with loads of devices. The aim is obviously to free you from iTunes and WMP. You can sync music, pictures, movies, podcasts and even search the Android Market from inside of your media player. This is all good ideas! Unfortunately the player has a looong way to go before being an option to iTunes or even any other media player. A part from the sync abilities it’s not that good. Serious problems reading ID3 tags properly (almost half of my library was missing parts or all information and believe me, I keep those tags in pedantic order), no ability to view or edit file information, no ability to collect album art and an interface that is actually less appealing than it’s Android counterpart. Did I mention I had to install it as an admin in Win7, and run it as one each time? Otherwise it won’t sync with my Nexus1. No, my computer will continue running songbird. I can’t sync pictures, movies and podcasts (though I guess podcasts is coming up sooner rather than later). On the other hand synchronizing music is also hard when the library doesn’t perform good enough to even show all your songs.

Double Twist Desktop library
DoubleTwist library when I search for "abra"
Songbird library
Exactly the same search and library but in Songbird instead

Songbird almost ready to hatch

Kanyebird
Kanyebird

A year or two back I read a short review on yet another media player, Songbird. As a hardcore Winamp user (since I got my first computer back in 1998) I wondered why I should use anything else but it had some interesting features.  Open source being one, Free another but most of all: it had iPod support. I have never owned an iPod myself but my girlfriend did so…I gave it a spin. It turned out that the iPod support was somewhat experimental and I missed other functions as well. Like all players other than Winamp it lacked what in Winamp is called playlist. It could of course handle playlists but I’m used to having one that are always present, like a queue almost.

Since it didn’t really support iPods I was soon back to Winamp. It looked better, felt better/faster/more stable and it had my dear playlist so I didn’t really see a reason to change. Fast forward…

As I wrote earlier I recently got a Mac Mini. It’s great in so many ways but despite my more and more desperate attempts I still can’t find anything good with iTunes (not true, it looks quite nice). No playlist, no sync with my Android, surprisingly slow and only a “locked” watchfolders (yes it sounds totally ridiculous but it’s true, it will only watch a pre-defined folder). On top of that I couldn’t find a smooth way to duplicate/synchronize my library with my laptop, not even the new “Home share” feature can handle it properly. The alternative is to use Windows Offline files on my laptop. That actually synchronize the files, the library information (like covers) however stays…and back to the problem with no watchfolders. Now I had to manually add every new file twice! I even went so far as to let iTunes totally destroy my rigorously kept folder structure (sob) in my tries to get everything in place. Which of course didn’t help me at all except it created some duplicates and turned it into some kind of…chaos.

Birdie with guitar
Birdie with guitar

Eventually I gave up, back to winamp on my laptop but…no Mac support? Huh!? Lost again. Then out of no particular reason I stumbled on Songbird again. First thing to notice: Cross-platform! (Unfortunately they have just dropped further Linux support). Download-Install. Nice new look, faster, cover download and skinable (called feathers of course) sweet features indeed. Do I have to mention that the bird graphics are some of the cutest ever seen in a desktop software? Songbird can also use addons and it turns out that I’m not the only one loving the Winamp playlist. The “Now Playing” addon is very, very close to being the same thing. Works for me! There are of course many great addons, both for mediaviews and functional like finding duplicates in your library. Now I just have to download it on the Mac Mini and see what can be done about the iTunes destroyed library. The device support has also improved since my last tryout and syncing with my Android devices works like a charm, haven’t really tried out the iPod support though.

My only negative remark is that it sometimes feel a bit slow but it’s definitely bearable. Bugs are taken care of but they do exist. I truly recommend you give it a try yourself! www.getsongbird.com

The songbird splash
"Splashbird"