- Free ($8.99 in-app upgrade to “pin” songs to device)
- Available at: Apple App Store, Android Market
For those who have amassed a huge music collection, it’s probably fair to say that one of your biggest pet peeves is the limited options in bringing it all with you into the car. Audiogalaxy is a free app that can stream every song, album, podcast or playlist you have on iTunes directly to your iOS or Android device.
While smartphones are now a big part of in-car infotainment, for better or worse, the limited storage capacity might be a big issue for those with collections that are many times bigger than what they can squeeze into a smartphone. Audiogalaxy uses the data connection on your phone to stream the audio directly from your home computer, either PC or Mac. The host computer has to be on in order for the app to do its thing.
It works on either a 3G or LTE data plan, and setup requires that you install the client software and begin uploading your library on the website. Rather than copying songs to some central server, it takes the songs’ metadata so that it can match what you want to play with what’s actually there in your iTunes library. Doing it this way expedites the process in that you can have a relatively mid-sized collection of 5,000 songs done in less than 30 minutes, as an example.
You can create your own playlists, and the app will also make up some of its own by using some popular artists as reference points. For example, it took Michael Jackson from my list collection and packed in 25 similar tracks.
An unfortunate trade-off is that the app won’t stream WAV files, so if you ripped CDs without converting them to AAC or MP3, they can’t play at all natively. FLAC files are also non-starters.
By default, Audiogalaxy compresses tracks a little bit more to conserve bandwidth, though you have the option to turn that off in the settings. It’s an easy decision to make if you have a big data plan, but if your bandwidth doesn’t offer that much, you might want to think twice before tinkering with that setting.
Without the default compression, sound quality is generally no different than it would be if you had the songs stored locally on your device. This is relative, of course, because there will be moments where a song skips a couple seconds or interference impacts clarity. Audiophiles with acute ears will notice the difference when compression is turned on, but for most users, the step down might not be so bad. And, last but not least, the app is at the mercy of dreaded 3G “dead zones” and any other bandwidth crawls, much like Internet radio apps are.
Audiogalaxy’s in-app purchase upgrade lets you listen to “pinned” songs without needing a data connection. It sounds reasonable, even if the $8.99 price tag might seem a bit inflated, but it’s also a little misleading since “pinned” is simply a euphemism for copying a song over to the device. You might feel desperate enough to copy over tracks you didn’t just sync over at home, but the upgrade isn’t packed with extra incentives to get you to pay up.