Hands on with Apollo, CyanogenMod’s new stock music player
Ever since it was released, I have been trying to use Google Music to synchronize and manage my music collection, in addition to the third party DoubleTwist player for local music. However, the setup isn’t ideal, and I am still on the lookout for a better way to play and manage music on my Android device. As such, when the Apollo application showed up preinstalled on a recent nightly build of my current daily ROM CyanogenMod, I decided to give the new music player a try and see how well it worked.
When I first opened the app, it became clear that Apollo is all about simplicity. There are only two main parts of the app: the music navigation screen and now playing screen. The music navigation screen itself has three main parts: a top navigation panel, main content display in the middle, and the now playing bar at the bottom. The top navigation bar contains the different tabs that you swipe left or right to navigate through, including “Recent,” “Artists,” “Albums,” “Songs,” “Playlists,” and “Genres.” Sensibly enough, the content display panel in the middle contains a list of the content in whatever tab you select, with the “Artists” and “Albums” tab sprucing things up a bit with almost Metro-like displays of album artwork. At the bottom of the screen, the now playing tab shows you what song is currently playing with the option to favorite it, as well as the search and menu buttons.
Moving on to the now playing screen, the simplicity and clean style of Apollo are still evident. The favorite, search, and menu buttons on the top and standard music buttons like play and shuffle on the bottom flank a large album art display. While this might not be the best setup for showing information about the song or detailed settings, it does look very clean and simple, and the basic controls you will need are all there. Also, at least in CyanogenMod Apollo also supports a notification bar widget with music controls as well as a lockscreen widget with controls by default, something most other unofficial music players don’t.
However, it seems that Apollo may have carried their policy of simplicity in the interface a bit too far, as Apollo has a fairly basic list of extra features. In addition to the most basic music playing duties, Apollo will also scrobble and favorite tracks for Last.fm, plug into the stock CyanogenMod EQ/DSP Manager app and Android share menu, and work with a few themes. This means that the settings menu currently only houses an options to change themes, and users running Apollo without DSP Manager installed might be out of luck in terms of EQ.
Still, there is something that I like about the simplicity and straightforwardness and simplicity of Apollo. The UI looks great even without themes and really blends into Ice Cream Sandwich well, navigation is easy and clear, and there aren’t too many settings and options to complicate things. Apollo is a simple app designed just to play music, and it actually does so quite well, even if it is no Poweramp. (Although as far as I can tell, Apollo does come fairly close to gapless playback.) I’ll have to get DropSync setup properly to sync my music before I start using it exclusively, but thanks to simple design and integration with CyanogenMod, it looks like Apollo will be my new favorite music app.
Apollo comes standard with CyanogenMod 9, but you can also install it from this .apk. Just be warned that the .apk might not work on all devices or OS versions, and the Apollo music app that you find if you search in the market is not the same as the version from CyanogenMod.