Music App Review: Audiogalaxy For Android

At this point it’s pretty much conventional wisdom that cloud systems like Apple’s much-hyped iCloud are the future of mobile music. It does sound pretty much like a music geek’s greatest fantasy – on-the-go access to your entire library via a pocket-sized device you carry everywhere anyway. The stellar Audiogalaxy app isn’t exactly a cloud service, but the effect is exhilaratingly similar.

If the Audiogalaxy name rings a bell, you probably did a bit of file-sharing back in the early oughts. Originally positioned as sort of a smarter, more ethically minded alternative to Napster and Limewire, Audiogalaxy nevertheless shut down under RIAA pressure in 2002. After devoting most of the subsequent decade to its highly successful Rhapsody streaming service, the brand relaunched last year with a significantly different mission. The new incarnation employs a technology known as placeshifting to give users on-the-go access to the music files on their home computers.

Setting up Audiogalaxy on your Android smartphone is simple enough that you might assume you’re missing something. Just download the app to your phone from the Android Market and set up your dashboard on your home computer at www.audiogalaxy.com. The app then scans your computer for music files, either automatically or per your own custom search. From then on, as long as your computer is powered on and connected to the web with Audiogalaxy running, you’ll be able to listen to all of your songs via your phone. You can also access your library via any other computer, a nice touch for those times when you’re trying to explain a killer new album to your buddy but finding yourself short on words.

Using the app is also a relatively easy process. The startup screen offers several options: Explore (recently played tracks by people with similar taste, with an option to play most songs on YouTube), Friends (recent music activity from people in your social network) and Stream Your Music. The latter is the meat and potatoes, calling up a scrolling menu of all of your songs sorted by Playlists, Artists, Album and Genre.

Unlike some similar music apps, Audiogalaxy allows you to build playlists right on your phone, a handy feature for road trips and spontaneous gatherings. The Genie feature functions pretty much like Apple’s Genius tool, automatically generating playlists of tracks similar to whatever song you use as a starting point. If you’re the sort who feels your friends need to be kept abreast of your listening habits, Audiogalaxy has that covered with Twitter and Facebook buttons for each track.

If cloud music really lives up to its much-ballyhooed potential, Audiogalaxy might wind up looking like old news awfully quickly. For the time being, though, it’s about as much as any music fan could ask for, especially for free.

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