The BlackBerry has evolved over the past few years from an enterprise device into a multimedia haven for consumers. We’ve seen many developments recently to enhance the music experience BlackBerry provides.
Whether it’s streaming clients, media players, or outlets where you can purchase tunes, it’s all coming to BlackBerry. So we thought we’d take this time to round up a number of streaming applications. Not only that, but for those who don’t prefer streaming we’ve compiled some old BBGeeks posts about playing music on your BlackBerry.
We would like to make this article a valuable resource for all BlackBerry owners out there.
If you know of an audio application that is not included in this list, please leave it in the comments and we will periodically update the page with the latest additions.
Streaming music is the new radio, except without the long commercial breaks. A number of services have offered streaming services over the Internet, and now they’re starting to populate on the mobile platform. Whether it’s a third party streaming music stations to your BlackBerry or it’s a client streaming your personal iTunes library, there are many options.
It seems like everyone’s using Pandora these days. For those unfamiliar, it’s a streaming music service which uses the Music Genome Project to determine which songs you like based on bands you list and how you rate songs. It’s my personal favorite streaming client for both the BlackBerry and on my laptop. You can see me gush over Pandora in this post. It’s a free download, so just head to Pandora.com from your BlackBerry browser. It’s a quick download and setup process. You can hook it up to your normal account so that all of your preferences and ratings are saved.
While the BlackBerry masses awaited a Pandora app, Slacker snuck in and filled the void. They started getting the word out last year, and we finally saw the Slacker BlackBerry application released as the new year turned. It’s based on the same concept as Pandora, though I’m not sure if it breaks songs down into 400 different attributes to determine your listening preferences. It still allows you to stream music based on what you say you like, which is the biggest factor for streaming radio.
The basic version of Slacker is free, so you can get it by going to Slacker.com from your BlackBerry device. There is also a premium option for $3.99 per month. This allows you unlimited song skips (the free version allows six per hour), no ads, and unlimited song requests, and the availability of song lyrics. Either way, paid or free, it sounds like a good deal.
In the intro paragraph to this section I mentioned that streaming radio is just like FM radio except without all the ads. Yet some people simply prefer the old standard of radio. Thankfully, there’s a BlackBerry solution. The Berry-sphere has been abuzz lately about iHeartRadio, an application developed by iHeartMusic. It’s a BlackBerry client which allows you to stream music from 150 radio stations nationwide.
So not only can you get your favorite stations from home, but you can explore other flavors from around the country. Yes, iHeartRadio is free, so head on over to their download site to get it. It streams in AAC format, so the quality is right up there. They also offer “genre-defying” channels, though I haven’t an idea what that means. It’s enticing, though, and definitely worth a look if you’re a music buff.
The next two applications offer a different brand of streaming, though it’s to the same effect. Instead of listing artists or songs you like as with Pandora and Slacker, nuTsie works with your iTunes library to stream music you’ll enjoy. The application recognizes those songs on your selected iTunes playlists and formulates a list of other music you might enjoy. The Serendipity Slider allows you to control how much new music you listen to vs. how much of your own tunes are streamed.
If you like a song it streams for you, you can add it to your Grab Bag for later, or you can say “hate it” and move on. It sounds like the perfect music app: songs you have and like combined with new tunes, mixed with customizable frequency. nuTsie is available for BlackBerry, so head to their download site to give it a try. I’ve heard of issues relating to iTunes syncing and of the streaming quality, but not enough to make me not recommend the app.
Like nuTsie, Didiom streams music to your BlackBerry based on your iTunes library. Unlike nuTsie, it doesn’t provide you with any recommendations. So why would you choose Didiom? Because it offers something that other services don’t: the ability to download DRM-free music. Didiom has a library of over a million songs, and if any of the music you’re streaming makes you think of something else, you can browse and then download the tracks right from their secure server.
You can get songs for as low as 89 cents (for the low-quality phone version) or up to $1.39 (for a higher-quality copy for your PC). You can even pick up albums for between $9.9 and $12.99. PC users can download Didiom from their website. It’s not compatible with Mac, which is strange since it uses an iTunes interface. The only time you’ll pay is if you use their service to download new songs.
Streaming radio isn’t for everyone. Some people like control over what they’re listening to. Others commute in areas with little to no cell reception (hello subway riders). Whatever the reason, you can always load some songs onto a memory card and use your BlackBerry as a regular old MP3 player. With cards now ranging up to 16GB, you can surely find one that can fit enough music to last your commute.
Loading songs and using your BlackBerry MP3 player
This isn’t the first time we’ve addressed BlackBerry music issues. In an effort to not bore you by rehashing old posts, we’ll just link up a little bit. A little less than a year ago we talked about using your BlackBerry as an MP3 player. That was a quick rundown of using a memory card, picking a media player, finding music, and transferring files. It’s a very general look at the subject.
Then, last week, we discussed how to load music onto your BlackBerry. We boiled this down to two main methods: BlackBerry Media Sync and manually loading up your SD card. Using the Roxio Media Manager feature in BlackBerry Desktop Manager works as well, and is described in the earlier article about using your Berry as an MP3 player. A commenter also tipped us off to doubleTwist, a Mac application for loading songs onto your BlackBerry.
Picking a media player
Honestly, the default BlackBerry Media Player can hold its own for basic music functions. For basic users, it’s the easiest and freest way to do it. For geekier users, though, there are a number of alternatives. Some are mentioned above, but we’ll hash them out again here just for kicks. FlipSide Music Player was one of the first apps we reviewed on BBGeeks.
It’s a pretty cool media player which incorporates album art into the visual interface. You can “flick” through music like on an iPhone, which is a nice little feature. It does cost, though, to the tune of $19.95. BerryTunes is a less visually oriented media player, but it gives you the ability to stream Internet radio and podcasts.
MiuTunes brings back the visual pleasure, and is honestly one of the better functioning MP3 players I’ve used. However, it checks in at $29.95, $10 more expensive than FlipSide.
Stream or load, BlackBerry is great for music
The addition of multimedia capabilities has been one of the more welcome evolutions for the BlackBerry.
While the stock battery might not be optimal for heavy use, loaded or streaming music is great for short commutes — especially when you can charge up right afterwards. It sure beats carrying two devices around. The best part is that there are so many choices that one is bound to work for you. Whether it’s a streaming client like Pandora or the default media player, there’s something out there for every type of music fan, no matter your style or listening preferences.