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Linux music app ‘DeaDBeeF’ comes to Android – but is it any good?

Popular lightweight music player ‘DeaDBeeF’ recently launched an Android version.

Although not open-source like its bigger brother, the move is still a fantastic addition to the Android eco-system and to users of the desktop version of the media player.

But is it any good for wider users; for people like me? I decided to download it and use it as my main Android media player for a day or two to find out…

Does Android really need another media player?

If you thought never ending pile-up of media players on Linux was bad then I advise you to steer clear of the Android Market where ‘yet another media player’ after mediocre media player after undistinguishable media player can be found stacked to the rafters.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m firmly or the opinion that choice, no matter how vast, is a good thing but it can lead to wasted effort in creating identikit applications devoid of variance.

Thankfully DeaDBeef avoids that trap, but it does have a few flaws of its own.

Ad and ad free versions

Before I jabber on it’s worth noting that DeaDBeeF for Android is available in two different versions: a ‘free’ ad supported version, and an ad-free paid ‘Pro’ version.

This review looks at the ‘free’ version.

Deja Vu

My first impression, before even installing the app, isn’t good.

As if paying homage to its Linux roots DeaDBeeF first requires you to download and install a free codec pack. Without this it’s unable to play back many popular audio formats – including MP3.

Beyond this hiccup it’s business as usual. DeaDBeeF for Android works like any other music-playing application with the roster of play-controls, playlists and album art display are all present and working as should be.

The application provides no homescreen widget, file search or lock-screen integration but it does minimise to the Android notification tray when playing, but closed.

Looks

If you’re a fan of DeaDBeeF on the desktop then you’re bound to be won over by the application’s retro appearance, which resembles a green-LCD screen MP3 played.

snap20110607_102948-r100To anyone used to visually slick and animated ‘modern’ media players chances are DeaDBeeF will looks horribly dated.

Advertisement fail

I’m not against the inclusion of advertisements in ‘free’ applications, but it does help if advertisements compliment the general design and layout of the application and not just look ‘tacked on’.

As shown in the screenshots above and below, it’s apparent that DeaDBeeF has fallen into the this latter category, with the positioning of adverts obscuring the ‘Album Art’ display.

snap20110607_102955-r100

The position-issue comes across as a needlessly insulting gesture to users of the free’ version.

One school of thought is to make the adverts in ‘lite/free’ versions of apps so annoying that users are clamouring to pay up for a better experience. The outcome of such a move is wholly different: most will simply uninstall the ‘annoying’ application and install a less annoying one. The result is less users, less potential ‘purchasers’ and, the crux for ‘ad versions’ less ad revenue.

Track browsing

Call me pampered but I rather expected DeaDBeeF to automatically locate and list my music, especially since most Android devices keep music in the same place.

Alas, although adding folders full of music yourself is simple and straightforward enough, if a wee bit fiddly

Other features

Tapping the ‘album art cover’ takes you to a thorough track properties window.

Other features include multiple playlists, gapless playback and the ability to play Shoutcast/Icecast streams using ‘Add Location’ menu option.

snap20110607_103024-r100snap20110607_103034-r100

Last.FM Scrobbling (requires the official Last.FM scrobble app) is only available in the ‘Pro’ version.

Overall

My feelings towards the application are mixed: I love it because of what it is, where it’s come from and who it’s made by, but I’m not immune to the relative flaws and drawbacks in using it over other readily available music apps.

In all, if you’re a fan of DeaDBeeF on the desktop you’re likely already used to/in favour of the approach taken. However if, like me, you’re just after something that ‘just works’ – and doesn’t annoy you in the process – then DeaDBeeF is likely better off avoided for now.

Download

DeaDBeeF for Android | market.android.com/details?id=org.deadbeef.android