Quick – name a major gap between iPhone and Android-based phones? Raise your hand if you said music. In many ways, iPhone started with the solid base of the iPod music ecosystem, and built up the phone platform around it. For example, the iTunes store already had all the digital commerce functionality and huge user base now used by the iPhone’s app store. Winamp seeks to start closing that gap by bringing more music functionality to Android phones. It’s a good start, but the gap still exists.
Winamp successfully delivers a basic music player app, where you can play tunes, create playlists, browse artists, and search the web and social networks for more artist info. The controls are familiar, and managing the music on your phone is easy.
The problem? Downloading new music to your phone. With Winamp, buying and downloading music remains a DIY effort. You’ll find none of the complete solution aspect of Apple’s iTunes. Fairly easily, you can sync digital audio files from your PC to your Android, but there is no music store. Winamp does help you get started though, by providing a series of single tracks from indie artists within the app itself.
Winamp includes a connection to Internet radio. You can search for, and listen to, Internet-streaming stations through the app’s SHOUTcast feature. This worked well in my testing on a Nexus One.
Overall, Winamp lifts Android phones off the ground in terms of portable digital music, but not yet up to the lofty heights of the competition. Let’s hope the app’s features continue to grow.