Your smartphone already doubles as a dependable music player right out of the box, and the bevy of audio apps out there make it even better. Whether you want unlimited access to tens of millions of songs or want to turn your device into a dynamic FM radio, there’s no shortage of mobile apps that will get the job done. From Spotify to Shazam, here are our 15 favorite music apps for your smartphone or tablet.
Well, that was fast. Since its launch last September, Apple's iTunes Radio has jumped into the number three spot among music streaming services. Not bad considering only iOS devices running iOS 7 can access the service. Its benefits are many: With more than 25 million songs, iTunes Radio has the largest catalog size of any service. Featured Stations provide an additional source of discovery, beyond simply building a station around your favorite song, artist, or genre. If you're already on an iOS 7 device, iTunes Radio is no-brainer to take for a spin next time you're in the hunt for tunes.
With a user-friendly interface and access to more than 20 million songs, it's no surprise why Spotify is one of the leading music apps. The Spotify mobile app now allows you to shuffle any artist or album for free, and the new Browse feature makes it easier than ever to find the perfect playlist. The app gets even better with Spotify Premium ($9.99 per month), which allows for unlimited offline listening on your mobile device and ad-free streaming.
Pandora has been a household name in the world of online radio for almost a decade, and the Pandora app is still one of the best ways to enjoy music on your phone. In addition to providing Pandora's signature custom radio stations, the app now has a sleep timer and alarm function so you can both fall asleep and wake up to your favorite music. Pandora recently lifted the 40 hour per month listening limit from the mobile app, making this musical mainstay a more appealing download than ever.
Dr. Dre's Beats brand is synonymous with stylish audio accessories, so it's no surprise the company has entered the online music arena. Beats Music ($9.99 per month) boasts a sexy and intuitive interface, complete with more than 20 million tracks and finely curated playlists from audio experts like Pitchfork and XXL Magazine. Beats maintains a deep commitment to personalization with The Sentence, a feature that asks for your location, mood, and current activity in order to fill your ears with the perfect song for the moment.
Folks have been jamming to Rhapsody's online music service for more than a decade, and the brand has made a seamless transition into the mobile world. The Rhapsody app offers a clean UI that makes it easy to browse the millions of songs in its library. Each can be downloaded and taken on the go, if you have a Premier membership ($9.99 per month). Rhapsody works across your smartphone, Web browser, Smart TV, Xbox 360 and Sonos Wireless speakers, allowing you to enjoy your tunes however you see fit.
If you're a radio purist who wants constant access to stations made just for you, iHeartRadio is well worth a download. This free app allows you to stream local pop, rock, hip-hop, R&B and country stations, as well as to create custom stations that pull from iHeartRadio's vast music library of more than 18 million songs. If you're not quite sure what to listen to at any given moment, iHeartRadio will find you a station for a variety of activities including working, driving and hitting the gym.
Plenty of apps let you listen to today's top artists, but SoundCloud will help you find a new favorite band that you never knew existed. This free app is built for those who want to discover and share new music, as the SoundCloud community is filled with up-and-coming artists that collectively upload hours of new music every minute. You can even use SoundCloud to record and share your own music right from your smartphone, making it as useful for self-promotion as it is for finding great tunes.
Xbox Music is one of the most robust streaming services on the market, with 30 million songs wrapped in a sleek UI that brings both Xbox and Windows 8 to mind. With Xbox Music Pass ($9.99 per month), you can use the Xbox Music app to stream unlimited ad-free music, save songs to your device for offline playback and create artist-based radio stations to find more of what you love. Xbox Music stays in sync across all of your devices, so you can start an album on your iPhone and finish it later on your Xbox One.
Identify songs and TV shows quickly by holding up your device to the audio source and tapping a button on the Shazam app. From there, you can navigate to the song or video on YouTube or a 30-second iTunes preview or in Rdio. If you upgrade Shazam for $6.99, you'll enjoy an ad-free experience that lets you jump into full songs on Spotify or Pandora.
The newly-added Auto Shazam recognizes songs and TV even while your phone is locked. Plus, the app now allows you to share Shazam tags (your discovered songs) via WhatsApp, Pinterest and as iMessages on iPhone.
With Amazon Prime ($99 per year) now comes Prime Music. That means you get access to more than 1 million songs from top artists such as Daft Punk, Bruno Mars and Madonna. You can also load your personal library to the app and create playlists. Prime Playlists are created by Amazon, based on your activity, feelings or genres.
More than 30 million songs are instantly available when you sign up for a $9.99 per month subscription to Google Play Music. You can build your own playlist, including your own tunes, or you can pick from those hand-selected options from Google. You can also download songs to your device for offline listening. By signing up you also get access to the YouTube Music Key beta program for ad-free music videos.
For free, Slacker Radio brings you hundreds of radio station options. You also get the ability to skip up to six songs per hour. Or you can create your own stations from a selection of millions of songs. But all that comes with ads. If you spring for $3.99 per month you get no ads, unlimited skips and offline listening. For another $5 per month, you can play songs and albums on demand.