Regardless of whether you've got an Android-powered smartphone, tablet, or other type of portable, you can turn it into a music discovery device simply by using a streaming music service that provides a free Android app.
You may already have a selection of songs and albums synced to your Android device, but unless you frequently update this content it can quickly become stale. If you'd rather have an almost unlimited supply of new music without running the risk of filling up your device's storage, then using streaming music services could be the perfect solution.
Many services of this type now provide a free Android music app that can be used to listen to music streams via your Wi-Fi router, or through your phone's carrier network.
To save you the hassle of searching the Internet looking for music services that offer a free mobile music app for the Android platform, we've compiled a list (in no particular order) of some of the best.
One of the great advantages in using Slacker Radio's free Android app is that you can stream music without having to pay a subscription. This is normally a paid-for option with many other competing services and so this one aspect could sway you into installing their Android app to try out Slacker Radio.
Once you have installed the free app (which incidentally is also available for other platforms too), you can tune into Slacker's 100+ pre-compiled radio stations and listen to an unlimited amount of music. You can also compile your own custom stations too.
Obviously there are a lot more features available to you if paying a subscription to Slacker Radio. One of the best features is being able to cache music straight to your Android's storage so you don't have to be connected to the Internet all the time.
If you like listening to music in Internet Radio style, then Slacker Radio's free app offers a great way to discover music for free and is certainly worth installing on your Android device.
If you prefer using music recommendation services like Pandora Radio, then you'd be hard-pushed to find a better resource for your personalized music listening needs. Pandora Radio's Music Genome Project has an excellent discovery engine that you can use on your Android device by downloading the free app.
Once installed, you can use your Android (also available for other mobile platforms) to find and listen to millions of songs that are suggested based on your likes and dislikes. If you've never used Pandora Radio before, then it can be thought of as a personalized radio station where you get to be the DJ. Over time, the system learns what kind of music you like via a user-friendly thumbs up/down interface and becomes more accurate.
The free Pandora Radio app allows you to stream music via Wi-Fi or your phone carrier's network. Even though there is a skip limit with Pandora Radio, it's still a great resource to use with your Android device for discovering new artists and bands that play music you like.
3. Spotify App
Just like the iPhone app, you will need to be a Spotify Premium subscriber to get the most out of using Spotify via your Android-based portable. However, there is a free option called Spotify free radio that you can use to listen to songs without a subscription (using your free account), but this is currently only available in the United States. If you don't have a free account, you'll need to sign up first using your Facebook account or email address.
Installing this app on your Android device and subscribing to Spotify Premium enables you to listen to an unlimited amount of streaming music, plus the ability to use a handy feature called, Offline Mode. This helps you to download tracks to your device so they are always available -- even when there's no Internet connection.
Even if you don't pay a subscription, you can still use the Spotify app for certain tasks. For example, you can use your wireless network (Wi-Fi) to sync your own songs and playlists. You can also log into your free Spotify account to search for songs and albums which can then be purchased and downloaded just like a traditional a la carte music service -- e.g. iTunes Store and Amazon MP3.
For more information, read our full Spotify Review.
4. MOG App
MOG offers an advertisement supported free account as standard for streaming music to your computer's browser, but if you want this on your Android portable then you'll need to be a MOG Primo subscriber. This subscription level delivers most mobile music streams at 320 Kbps and thus could be the deal clincher if you are looking for a service that provides music at the highest quality -- incidentally, this level of audio quality surpasses most other services. As well as an unlimited amount of ad-free streaming music, you can also download tracks if you prefer. Using the Android MOG app also helps to keep your playlists in sync between the cloud and your devices.
MOG currently offers a 7-day free trial of their Android app so you can see if it's suitable for your needs, but keep in mind that there's no free access option after this.
5. Last.fm App
Streaming music to your Android portable using Last.fm's app is free for users in the United States, United Kingdom, and Germany. To be able to use this service in other countries, a small subscription fee is required per month. If you've never used Last.fm, then its essentially a music discovery service that uses a feature called 'scrobbling'. This keeps a record of what you listen to the most (covering a range of other music services too) and is used to recommend similar music that you might like.
You can listen to Last.fm radio in the background using the Android app as well as getting music recommendations and viewing your friend's scrobbles.