APP OF THE DAY: doubleTwist with AirSync review (Android)

Some people consider the strength of the iPod and iPhone to be iTunes. It is, to its credit, a pretty good way of keeping your media organised and syncing it with your iOS device. Android doesn't have the luxury of a single place to sync your phone, which is where doubleTwist and its partner in crime, AirSync come in.

doubleTwist with AirSync

Format
Android
Price
Free, but £3.99 with AirSync
Where
Android Market

Together, these two apps will give your Android phone a new music player that can sync music from your PC over Wi-Fi. There's also an application for your computer that manages your music library, plays music and lets you send music not just Android phones, but iPods (albeit over USB only) and other USB MP3 players.  

Both doubleTwist for Android and Windows/Mac computers is free. The only charge comes if you want to sync wirelessly, and then you have to pay £3.99 for AirSync. It's worth remembering though, from time to time AirSync gets a price reduction. For example, when it first came out it cost just 60p. The good news is that if you're happy to sync via USB, you don't need to pay at all.

As all three components are important, we should deal with them all individually.

doubleTwist for the PC

What first struck us about the doubleTwist PC app is how much faster it is than everything else we've used. Winamp dissolved into irrelevancy years ago, Windows Media Player is as bad as iTunes, and the other apps we've used just haven't inspired us.

The thing we like is that it gives you some flexibility. It has a good search for finding tracks in your library and it also has views for looking into folders and narrowing things down via an artist or track. Our music is arranged by folder, i.e: D:MusicPThe ProdigyInvaders Must Die so sometimes we like using the folder structure to navigate.

The initial music scan was pretty pain free. We've seen other software make a meal out of looking through your music, so to see it done quickly and well in doubleTwist was a nice surprise.

The app also supports podcasts and there's a pretty pointless wrapper around the Android Market for you to search for more apps. There doesn't seem to be any advantage to this though, but it's easy to ignore too.

As with iTunes, doubleTwist can keep your device synchronised with your PC. You can either send over specific playlists or opt to transfer all of your library, space permitting. We like the playlist option, as it can send over recently played, or your most played tracks.

AirSync

We can see why the company opted to charge for the Wi-Fi sync part of doubleTwist, because it's really awesome and works incredibly well.

To get started, you simply install the AirSync app via the Android Market. It doesn't run itself, instead it gives doubleTwist the ability to connect to your PC wirelessly and sync music, photos and video. To pair your phone to the PC you need to use a unique number, which is shown on your handset. If all goes well - and in our testing, it did - the PC application will ask you for this number automatically. This means it's detected your Android device already, and is just confirming that it's your phone, and pairing it with the PC.


When this is done, your device name shows in doubleTwist and you can start syncing music. The app seems to take the name of your device from your Google account name. Good, but slightly bothersome if you have two android devices you're trying to manage.

We found that the best system for moving music over, was simply to find the album or song we wanted in Windows Explorer, then simply drag it onto our wirelessly attached device. Within just a few seconds, the album was on our phone, ready for the commute to work.

doubleTwist for Android

And finally, the bit that gives you a way to enjoy your music on Android. It's worth pointing out that although you need doubleTwist installed to use AirSync, if you'd rather carry on using the standard Android app, then that's fine too.

However, doubleTwist is the most stylish and easy to use music apps we've used on Android. The front-end separates everything into artists, albums, songs, videos and playlists. There are also podcast and radio options from the main screen.

The playlists feature is useful because it enables you access the files you've recently synced. These are likely to be the files you're most interested in, and we found ourselves relying on most. However, finding older music was no hassle either, and doubleTwist is very responsive, so flicking through dozens of artists and tracks is a breeze.


There's also a search, accessed through your device's search button which will enable you to quickly track down (yeah, we said track down) any song or artist you're looking for.

We also love the fact that there's a play queue which enables you to stack tracks up without interrupting your current song. Simply long-pressing a song name brings up this option, as well as the opportunity to play it instantly.
There's a widget for your home screen too, which gives you the track you're listening to, along with a small version of the album art. You can also control playback from this widget, as you'd expect.

Simple and brilliant

The various bits that make up doubleTwist are truly impressive. For the first time, Android users can say that their devices offer something that Apple's do not. The slickness, and simplicity of getting doubleTwist and AirSync set up are a real selling point, and we just wish everything to do with Android apps was this well-designed and straighforward.

An app well worth considering if you love music, but are sick and tired of messing about with SD cards, or USB cables.


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