The current crop of high end Android smart phones seem to be capable of just about anything the average user could possible want, but is it ready to replace your stand alone iPod in your pocket? Not quite, at least not yet.
I am an audiophile. My iTunes library measures approximately 40 GB, and I keep a good portion of that in heavy rotation on a daily basis. ITunes coupled with a 30 GB old school 5th generation iPod have served me well for all these years; it is painless to sync, nearly instantaneous, intuitive, and it just works (and no, I do not work for Apple). So when the time came for me to finally upgrade to one of these smartphones that the kids seem to be fussing about these days, I looked at it as a great opportunity to reduce the clutter in my pockets by combining my phone with my iPod. Now, the natural choose would have been to purchase an iPhone, but after having unsatisfactory service with AT T; for the past two years, this was not an option for me. So I looked to the highly acclaimed Droid X on the Verizon network.
The Droid X comes with 16 GB of memory via SD card; not quite the 30 GB I am used to working with on the iPod but I can always expand it, but for now I figure I would just reduce my portable collection. The first thing I noticed about the Droid is that it is not compatible with iTunes. Not big deals since there are tons of media organizers out there, right? WRONG. Quite simply, iTunes is the best, easiest to use, and fastest media player available, and it’s FREE; some will swear by their Media Monkey or Double Twist, but I will get to those in a second. iTunes will not recognize any device other than an iPod or iPad; thanks Apple.
Frustrated by this discovery, I researched workaround methods to use. The best I found is a little program called iTunes Agent which will sync specified playlist from iTunes with your phone. This works well enough, except that the way iTunes organizes your files. iTunes places all of your music in folders according to the artist (not album artist). This works well for iTunes, but for any other program it is a nightmare. So what I got when I synced my iTunes designated playlist with my phone is several copies of the same album with one or two songs under each, and several out of order albums – great.
Dismayed by this, I sought out alternatives to iTunes to use as my primary music organizer/player; the problem is, there are none. Windows Media Player is still horrible so that option went out the window. Media Monkey, while some will swear it is the greatest thing since sliced bread, is ugly, cumbersome, not very user friendly, AND the developer expects you to pay top dollar for a program that does half of what iTunes does for free? The same goes for WinAmp. Double Twist may be a contender if you can actually get it to work; it refuses to recognize my phone. Songbird seems like a godsend at first. It is elegant like iTunes, open source with tons of add-ons similar to Fire Fox, has every option you could possible want including the ability to organize tracks and metadata in logical manners (e.g. Album Artist – gt; Album – gt; Title), but there is one major caveat – it is painfully slow, crashes, and often freezes up.
If the issues with just getting music onto your phone are not enough, the music player on the phone is not very good itself. iPhone iTunes it is not. Granted, you can download additional plays (i.e. Double Twist), none of them compare to the iPhone’s iTunes.
For a small library of music, these setbacks are not that prohibiting and the ole’ drag and drop method should suffice for these users. For those with large catalogs of music in iTunes and want to be able to sync easily and painlessly with their new Android phone, tough luck. Hopefully Google will remedy this with an upcoming release of the Android OS, but until then keep the handy iPod around.