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The demise of Google Play Music might have you thinking it's time to go back to the old way of locally storing your favorite music. Fortunately, this is the kind of thing Android was made for, and there are so many apps available that do more than organize your library into a playlist.
A worthy local music playback app for Android has an easily navigable menu structure and automatically populates new music once it's added to a specific file directory. It's also themeable, offers an integrated tag editor, and Android Auto support. Other nice-to-have features include Bluetooth playback and Google Cast integration.
Whatever your music playing needs, there is an app waiting for a new phone to call home. It's not possible to cover all the local player apps in the Play Store, so if there are any popular apps you think we missed, leave a comment!
Music Player Go
If you like the idea of using a local music player that's keen on open source, Music Player Go proudly waves the flag. The app is powered by Kotlin, and because it's consistently updated by the developer, Music Player Go plays nice with Android 10 and 11's scoped storage. You can grab Music Player Go from F-Droid, the open-source Android app store, or sideload it directly from GitHub.
Music Player Go hails all the music playing abilities you need in a local playback app, including simple queue management, a favorites list, and precise volume control that's separate from the device controls. There's also edge-to-edge support, dark and light themes in various color schemes, and the ability to hide albums and folders with songs and sounds you'd preferably not include in your shuffle.
Poweramp Music Player
Poweramp is as powerful as its name suggests. Along with playing a myriad of local music file types, it lets you import HTTP streams from sites like Digitally Imported. It offers Android Auto, Chromecast, and Google Assistant support to bridge the gaping hole left by Play Music's untimely departure. Bass heads can adjust the bass and treble from a decidedly user-friendly equalizer interface, and there is even Direct Volume Control (DVC) for extended dynamic range and deeper bass. If you want to listen to music loudly from your phone, you can select the "Speaker (Loud)" setting in the equalizer to rapidly increase the gain and get loud results.
I like Poweramp's overall look and feel. It's easy to find the menu item you're looking for, whether you're fielding playlists, streams, or all songs. If you're putting on a party—even if it's just you alone, as per these COVID times—you can choose from several animated visualizations that either appear over the interface or take over your screen as an ambient display of sorts. Poweramp is a very robust app, with even more features buried in the Settings. The app is free to try for 15 days, so you can thumb through everything it does before committing for $5.
Omnia Music Player
Omnia looks like a Plain Jane on the outside, but inside it's a full-featured music player with a strong emphasis on music playback. It's the sister application to Pulsar Music Player, also on this list.
Omnia has all the standard features, like lossless audio support and smart playlists, and playback support for some very nuanced file types, including Windows Media playlists. It works with Google Cast and Android Auto, and it scrobbles to Last.FM. Omnia is nicely laid out in Material Design, but beyond dark and light modes, you'll have to pay $2.99 for theming. The one-time price also unlocks a 10-band equalizer, 15 presets, and a reverb panel powered by Freeverb.
Pulsar Music Player
Pulsar Music Player is the sister app to Omnia Music Player, but its focus is on aesthetics. Choose Pulsar if you're looking for a capable music player that lets you match its color scheme to the rest of your highly customized interface. The Pulsar interface is the same Material Design look as Omnia, but with a ton of dark and light color presets to choose from provided you pay the $1.99 for Pulsar Pro or subscribe through Google Play Pass. You can customize each of the themes, selecting colors for up to six different interface elements.
Pulsar has a couple of other standard music playback features, including smart playlists and lyrics display, as well as essential Google Cast and Android Auto support. Unlocking the app also gets you a 5-band equalizer controller, 9 presets, a bass booster, and a reverb option.
VLC for Android
Traditionalists love VLC for Android for its reliable simplicity and tons of utility. Those of you looking for something design-forward will find not much here besides a very barebones, no guff kind-of music playing experience. On the plus side, you can include video in your music playback.
VLC for Android is a full audio player with support for a ton of video and audio file types, including MKV, MP4, FLAC, and OGG. Media junkies can access internet streams, DVD ISOs, and disk shares. There's also support for multi-track audio and subtitles. One minor caveat to consider is that the app's gesture control is rather sensitive.
If you're keen on playlists and all that matters in your music life is the order in which you listen to songs, try out AIMP. This app's primary focus is quick access to the lists you rely on to get you through your day-to-day. And though playlists exist on every other music player app featured here, the playlists you make in AIMP are embedded directly into the hamburger menu. Dig into the settings, and you'll find options for theming, gesture control, and even choosing the criteria displayed in the file name during playback. And if what you love to do is listen to those playlists while driving, AIMP has Android Auto support.
Simple Music Player
There's a reason K.I.S.S. stands for "keep it simple, stupid." Keeping it simple helps remove the chances of complications. And in the case of Simple Music Player, keeping it simple means focusing on local music playback.
Simple Music Player still gives you all the features you need from a beefier music player, including playlists, an equalizer with a handful of presets, color customization, and even a playback widget. There's also a handy search button for quickly fetching what you're looking for, and any new audio you download is added to the queue. Simple Music Player has no ads, and of the apps featured here, it asks for the fewest permissions. But there is no Google Cast integration, so you will have to find another method to send out music to a nearby smart speaker.
Musicolet puts a little more effort in terms of interface stylings, though it can seem a bit busy at times, and it's not as customizable as some of the other apps here. If what you like is easy-to-make queues, Musicolet sings like the sound of its name. They're easy to create, and for those with really massive music libraries, there's a batch editor for editing tags and album art. You can choose how to peruse through those files with linear or hierarchical browsing.
For playback, Musicolet has it all, too: embedded lyrics, gapless playback, sleep timers, and shortcuts for your favorite album or playlists. There's Android Auto support here, and light and dark themes, as well as a handy backup and restore feature.