Now that Google Music has finally launched out of its Beta mode and Android’s range of in-house multimedia services is complete, it seems about time we revived our Life Of Android ‘How To’ series. Aimed at ensuring new Android owners get the best out of their handsets, from the latest film downloads to the New York Times bestseller, this guide will tell you the best sources to stream and download from and let you know the pitfalls and benefits of each approach.
Movies & TV
Following the launch of Android Movies it’s now easier than ever to get a cinematic experience on your Android handset. Previously, if you wanted to watch a film on a platform running Google’s smartphone or tablet OS you’d have to convert the DVD to a MP4 file and run it through a media playing app like DicePlayer or MX Video Player Pro. This was a faff and involved a steady grasp file conversion programmes and their possible law breaking consequences, depending on how strict your government’s interpretation of copyright legislation is.
The came the media streamers which allowed you to connect to your home computer and stream any files stored there onto your Droid. While these don’t solve the problem of getting the files in the first place, both Plex and VLC Direct Pro crucially require less fuss to get right and work extremely well over a decent internet connection wherever you are in the world.
Even better, some TV channels and movie rental services have developed their own streaming services which are officially sourced so and work like a peach. HBO GO and BBC iPlayer are our favourites for catching up on missed telebox action and for watching the silver screen on the move there ‘s also the excellent Netflix app.
Android Movies is a huge step forward for movie buffs with an Android device however, due its sheer simplicity. There’s no set up extended setup and a library of over 1,000 to rent which will continue to grow over the coming months. Disappointingly you can’t keep the files you purchase but with prices starting at £2.49, its hard to kick up too much of a fuss. Payment is done via your Google Account too, so there’s no need to register your credit card details all over again.
The grand unveiling of Google Music may have proved a damp squid but hey ho, if you live in the United States and fancy a half complete catalogue of bands and artists then dive right in. As with the above movies section, your choice of music apps essentially revolves around downloads, streaming and simple players but because music is a much easier format to transfer onto Android there’s a lot more competition.
Both the Amazon MP3 and 7 Digital apps offer vast catalogues of tracks, we’re talking roughly 16 million songs here, meaning can find the latest chart hits and forgotten classics at the touch of a button. If you’re more interested in listening to your personal library of tunes, apps like Winamp and doubleTwist Player support pretty much every format imaginable so those dubious Rihanna leaks you’ve acquired are pretty much guaranteed to work.
Our favourite method music app for Android however, is undoubtedly Spotify which offers you an all-you-can-eat-buffet of top quality bands and solo singers for £9.99 a month. Importantly, this fee entitles you not only to stream as much music as you want when you’ve got an internet connection to hand and you can also save your playlists for offline use too. Admittedly, you don’t own the music you pay so much money for but ‘ownership’ is an increasingly outdated concept in the digital age anyway.
ebooks and magazines
We may be covering ebooks and magazines last in this ‘How To’ guide yet the reading apps field contains the best choice and competition of them all. Several publishers have gone as far as to create their own specific apps for Android with The Guardian, BBC and Marvel Comics offerings proving particularly popular on the Market. If you’re not a devotee of a particular publication, Zinio allows you to browse through almost every title you’d find on your average newsstand, read through some free taster articles and then download what you fancy for a reasonable fee.
When it comes to ebooks, the launch of Android Books means the previously unassailable Amazon Kindle store finally has a high profile rival on its hands. Most ebook readers such as Aldiko Book Reader have an extensive library of free titles but are less competitive with regards to the up to the minute big hitters. With the holiday season coming up, we’d recommend keeping an eye trained on both Amazon and Google to see what kind of offers the pair are willing to roll out to assert their dominance.
So that’s your lot in terms of how to kit out your Android with the best multimedia apps. If you’ve been affected by any of the issues in this post, feel free to use the comment box and send us a question. Remember our favourite Android apps are listed here on the site on the site and we’re reviewing new apps all the time, one per day in fact.