DoubleTwist App: Google Android's Answer to iTunes?

Android DoubleTwist

DoubleTwist is the first original, full-package media app that makes a case for Android as a media player. Initially a desktop software for Mac and Windows, DoubleTwist was an iTunes-looking program that was actually designed to be everything iTunes is not: streamlined, open, and platform-agnostic. DoubleTwist works with smartphones, media players, thumb drives, e-book readers, and countless other gadgets, no matter who makes them. It's sometimes a bit buggy and slow, but it's a pretty decent music jukebox.

Android's stock music player is something of a joke in the smartphone world. It is oppressively ugly, with a black, gray, and green interface. The "Now Playing" screen looks like something out of a cheap South Korean MP3 player circa 2006. It has no first-party desktop software with which to sync either media or apps. It is, in short, the clearest demonstration of Android's raw, Linux roots: a technically functional but completely unappealing and unexciting bit of software. Even its newest Froyo version is lackluster. Apple's iPod app blows it out of the water, as does Microsoft's Zune app.

But Android is not iPhone--Google is perfectly content to allow developers to fill the gap their own apps leave behind. bTunes, MixZing, Cubed, TuneWiki, and others have delivered respectable apps. MixZing and TuneWiki add social networking features, and Cubed offers a goofy cube-based navigation system. But what's embarrassing, from my point of view, is that bTunes is the best media player on Android, because bTunes is a facsimile of the iPhone's music app.

Yesterday marked the debut of DoubleTwist's Android app, which functions pretty similarly to the stock app, but with a nice-looking skin applied. Even better, it syncs properly with the DoubleTwist desktop software. You can sync music, video, photos, podcasts, and even e-books easily, and browse through the Android Market for other apps (though you can't actually download apps with the software, you'll have to scan in the QR codes for later). It essentially gives Android users the iTunes experience with extra freedom but without an accompanying store.

It's not perfect, by a long shot--it's early in the app's life, sure, and it's still slower and jerkier than bTunes. It's missing both a widget and lockscreen controls, though DoubleTwist says the former is coming soon. The interface could use a little work as well; there's a lot of empty space and some controls take up too much room.

But it's got a ton of potential, and companies like Motorola or Samsung could bundle the app in accompanying desktop software for their future phones. The iPhone is still the king of the hill in terms of media phones, but DoubleTwist makes that discrepancy at least a bit less pronounced.

Dan Nosowitz, the author of this post, can be followed on Twitter, corresponded with via email, and stalked in San Francisco (no link for that one--you'll have to do the legwork yourself).

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