Third Annual iOS Music Player Competition

Standouts

To reflect the growing diversity of iOS music players, I’m retiring my old “best player” search this year. Instead, I’ll highlight apps which I personally feel excel in the particular areas that interest me. Frankly, the old approach no longer applies; I no longer just use one music player like I did last year, but instead switch between a handful based on whichever one best delivers the experience I’m searching for at that time. It’s never been more exciting to love music on iOS, and I hope this new “standouts” approach encourages you to consider expanding your player collection, as well.

Premium lyrics experience

… if you’re streaming Apple Music for tracks with “live” lyrics support
"Music.app" iOS app icon Music.app: “Live” lyrics are hard to beat, not to mention this is the last place you can find the original lava lamp visualizer on iOS 14. When the “live” lyrics are available, they’re the most enjoyable lyrics experience on iOS.
… if you’re playing music without “live” lyrics on an iPad
"Power Player" iOS app icon Power Player: Power Player takes full advantage of the iPad’s massive screen by displaying both the full player view and lyrics view side-by-side while in landscape mode. No other player aside from Music.app supports this.
… if you’re playing music without “live” lyrics on an iPhone
"Doppi" iOS app icon Doppi: The lyrics are full-screen, editable, and revealed with a silky-smooth, addictive animation. No other lyrics experience for local music on the iPhone comes close.

Luxury look-and-feel

… if you’re on an iPhone
"Doppi" iOS app icon Doppi: The app feels like it was crafted by Apple’s finest engineers. Every interaction animates gracefully, and the interface aesthetics are the closest I’ve come to wanting to “lick the screen” since the original Aqua interface in Mac OS X.
… if you’re on an iPad
"Power Player" iOS app icon Power Player: It’s the only third-party app I’ve found that treats the iPad as a first-class citizen. It’s clear to me the iPad is Power Player’s primary focus, and it shows; no other player contains as many iPad-specific optimizations to take advance of the larger screen than Power Player.

Engaging discovery features

… if you love tinkering and customizing your phone
"Marvis Pro" iOS app icon Marvis Pro: If you can imagine it, odds are you can make it in Marvis Pro. No other player matches Marvis Pro’s customization system.
… if you want as many “no fuss & no setup” discovery features as possible
"Albums" iOS app icon Albums: Albums now sports the most plentiful, quality “out of box” discover features than any other player. If you either lack of necessary skills or interest in crafting your own experience with Marvis Pro, Albums is by far the most compelling option.

Beautiful player view

… if you’re on an iPhone
"Picky" iOS app icon Picky: Thanks to Music.app’s lava lamp visualizer mutilation in iOS 14, I’ve found myself returning once again to Picky when I’m in the mood for a gorgeous player view.
… if you’re on an iPad
"Power Player" iOS app icon Power Player: This is perhaps the most subjective take in this list; its player view design is striking, opinionated, and perhaps even controversial, but for my tastes I tend to really enjoy the results. While Picky also supports iPad screens, I much prefer Power Player’s approach which takes advantage of the larger screen to display both the complete player view and lyrics view side-by-side.

Engaging player view

… if you love browsing liner notes and album credits
"Albums" iOS app icon Albums: Once all the metadata is downloaded and available, its perhaps the most fun I’ve ever had browsing my library. It’s a delight having the ability to stumble upon commonalities with other records in your collection while listening.
… if you love visualizers
"jetAudio" iOS app icon jetAudio: Aside from Music.app’s lava lamp effect (which now only exists in it’s “true” form for “live” lyrics), and Soor’s canned “gradient” visualizer, no other player provides visualizers; if you love visualizers, jetAudio’s your answer.
… if you crave something to fidget with while listening
"Doppi" iOS app icon Doppi: Buttery smooth animations are good, but having those animations track your movement makes them truly great. That’s the case with Doppi, the animations track your finger with delightful parallax and blur effects that make it a joy for anyone that finds themselves wanting to fidget with something from time to time.

Album-optimized experience

… if you love tinkering and customizing your phone
"Marvis Pro" iOS app icon Marvis Pro: Since you can create practically any kind of music experience in Marvis Pro, there’s technically nothing stopping you from making the best album-optimized experience on it, too. However, this does still require the time and skills necessary to construct it, which might not interest you.
… if you want an album-focused player with no setup
"Albums" iOS app icon Albums: If all you want to do is download an app to get a fully-featured, album-focused experience, nothing comes close to matching Albums. Other options like Jams On Toast, Longplay, and TapTunes aren’t compelling enough, in comparison.

Apple Music service integration

"Marvis Pro" iOS app icon Marvis Pro: No iCloud Music Library required, Marvis Pro allows you to search and stream anything from Apple Music just like you can in Music.app. Despite its advertising, I would strongly advise against Soor due to its iCloud Music Library requirement to access any Apple Music features and the crippling bugs that reveal themselves should you choose not to enable it. Sathorn is also not advised due to its many design flaws covered earlier.

Music.app independence

… if your primary music library is not managed on a Mac
"Doppler 2" iOS app icon Doppler 2: It supports many open protocols for sending your music to Doppler, and music sent this way is treated as a first-class citizen. Other options either don’t support as many protocols for sending your music or don’t treat music sent this way as well as music managed by iOS.
… if your primary music library is managed on a Mac
"Doppi" iOS app icon Doppi: Supports every Apple-only protocol for sending files I can think of, which I’ve found to be a much more pleasant experience than the open protocol alternatives. While Doppler 2 also supports plenty of means to import your music, I find Doppi’s user experience tips the scales in its favor.
Table of Contents