Blending a local music player with a robust streaming service as well as cloud storage for your tunes, Google Play Music brings a lot to the table for folks with large libraries.
Its interface got a nice overhaul, bringing improved recommendations and contextual playlists (based on your location, the weather and your activities) to the forefront. 2016 also saw the app gain support for podcasts and an offline music cache so you can enjoy tracks from the cloud even without a connection.
➤ Google Play MusicNoon Pacific
There are many options for discovering music, but I consistently enjoy Noon Pacific’s offerings more often than the rest. It serves up a weekly mixtape of 10 songs spanning indie, pop, and downtempo, curated by developer Clark Dinnison every Monday at noon (Pacific Time).
The tracks play from the app and are all available on SoundCloud if you’d like to buy them. You can also look through all 200+ playlists at any time to delve into new tuneage.
➤ Noon PacificMusixmatch
Musixmatch remains one of the most compelling music players out there, and that’s not just because of its gorgeous interface. It also displays lyrics for the song that it’s currently playing, as well as for tracks you play in other apps like YouTube and Spotify.
This year, it’s also added the ability to display translated lyrics so you can enjoy foreign songs more easily. Granted, the ads in the free app can be a bit much (you can pay to remove them now), but it’s still an excellent app that handles lyrics better than anything else you can find on Google Play.
➤ MusixmatchShazam Lite
I frequently ID songs I hear in the wild while I’m commuting or hanging at cafes and clubs, but tools like SoundHound can sometimes be a bit slow and cause you to lose the track you’ve been chasing.
That’s why I’ve switched to Shazam Lite. It’s a stripped down version of the full app and does just one thing – identify songs lightning-fast. There are no widgets, lyrics or offline listening features, but hey, it only takes up 1MB on your phone so you don’t get to complain. Oh, and if you want to export the songs you’ve discovered, just share the listings with a note-taking app like Google Keep and tag those notes so you can easily retrieve them later.
➤ Shazam LiteAmpMe
AmpMe lets you sync up multiple devices so they play the same audio simultaneously, making for a multi-speaker sound system that you can fire up anywhere.
It’s not perfect, as it sometime isn’t exactly in sync – but you can adjust the delay to get it right, and when you do, it’s one of the coolest party tricks you can ever pull off. The app’s been around for a while, but this year it’s got an update that allows it to pair chain several Bluetooth speakers together, so it’s definitely worth downloading before you head out on your next road trip.
➤ AmpMeAmazon Rapids
New from Amazon, this app presents an expanding library of original stories told in a chat-style interface, so your kids feel like they’re actually talking to characters as they progress through the narrative.
The content is suitable for children aged seven to 12, and there’s a built-in glossary to help with difficult words, as well as a read-aloud mode for when you just want to listen to stories. While the app is free to download, it costs $2.99 a month to access the library.
➤ Amazon RapidsAnchor
Whether you’d like to get started with podcasting or want to give your existing show a boost, Anchor is worth a look. It lets you record and publish two-minute-long episodes without requiring additional equipment or editing tools, and shares it with its growing community of listeners and creators.
That’s handy for when you’re just testing the waters with an idea for a new podcast, training your voice or simply getting comfortable recording yourself. You can also use it to create short previews of longer episodes of your mainstream podcast. It’s free to use, so there’s nothing to lose in trying it out.
➤ AnchorHealth & wellness Simple Habit Meditation
Between juggling life at home and your responsibilities at school or work, it’s all too easy to feel stressed and worn out. Meditation can help relax your mind, rejuvenate you and prepare you to tackle the day better.
Don’t knock till you try it. As someone’s who constantly working at a desk in front of a screen, I assumed that I generally wouldn’t need to worry about stress, but it gets the better of me without my even knowing it.
Simple Habit offers a range of guided meditation courses that only take a few minutes of your time whenever you can spare them, and helps you clear your mind without any fluff or nonsense. The monthly and annual subscription plans might seem a bit pricey, but the free sessions are certainly worth a try to see if you’d like to pay for more.
➤ Simple Habit MeditationPoundaweek
Looking to lose weight steadily? Poundaweek helps you do just that, by efficiently tracking your calorie intake based on what you eat, as well as the calories you burn based on your fitness activity.
You can enter food items manually or by scanning bar codes, and the app can grab your fitness data from Google Fit. It then shows you just how many calories you can eat in order to lose a pound a week safely. The simple interface and easy-to-read figures make it a cinch to drop that holiday flab.
➤ Poundaweek – Calorie CounterPosture
Looking down at our phones several times a day can cause us to strain our necks over time. Posture tries to reduce that stress with helpful reminders that pop up on your screen.
Once you’ve set it up, it’ll keep an eye on when you’re using your phone, and remind you with a floating symbol to lift your phone up to eye level so you don’t strain your neck for extended periods of time. It’s that simple.
Here’s an easy way to track all your daily fitness activity and get motivated to do more. Human will make a note of your walks, runs and bike rides, and show you how you stack up against others in your city. It also pushes you to get moving for at least 30 minutes a day.
The app logs your data via Google Fit and displays your distance covered on a map. It also does away with step counts and displays time outdoors instead, which is a refreshing change from the usual bevy of fitness trackers out there. If you’re just getting started with light exercise, Human is a good way to follow your progress – and its gorgeous interface is a joy to use, too.
That’s a wrap! Did we miss your favorite app that was launched or updated in 2016? Share it in the comments.
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