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When most people think of music streaming, they think of services like Spotify, Pandora, or Grooveshark. These streaming services have been going for awhile and have built up quite the user base. So is there room for another streaming service? We think there is and apparently so did doubleTwist. With already successful Android music player, doubleTwist has taken that music player and added a new streaming service called Magic Radio. While the doubleTwist music player app is free, using Magic Service will cost you $3.99 per month. Here is our full review!
Getting to Magic Radio can be confusing if you've never done before. This is mainly because Magic Radio is not a standalone application. Rather, it's a feature in an already existing application by doubleTwist. Their already popular music application is free to download in the Google Play Store. Once you get it, open it up, and then select Magic Radio at the bottom. You can start with a 7 day free trial, but once that's over it'll cost you $3.99 per month to keep using the service. Paying for Magic Radio was easy enough as you can do it with your Google account like any other in-app purchase.
Once you're in Magic Radio, it's time to set up your services. There are three stations that come with Magic Radio. The first is called Music You Like and it may be pretty worthless to start out with. You'll need to add some stations first and then Music You Like will play a hodgepodge of music based on what stations you listen to. The second is called Music You Discover. This station will play music that's similar to the music you have in your stations to help you discover new bands that you may like based on the stuff you already like. The Hot Artists station is pretty self explanatory, as it'll play music by the highest selling artists right now.
To set up your own stations, click the plus button at the top right of the app. You can set up a radio station one of three ways. You can search for a word, artists, song, or album that you want your station to revolve around and create one that way. You can also select a certain mood, like happy or angry, and the station will play happy or angry music. Lastly, you can choose by genre. So if you want something like Rock or Hip-Hop, you can find it. Magic Radio has some pretty ridiculous genres as well, like Pagan Black Metal and Hi Nrg.
Once you get a station set up, listening to it is as easy as clicking on the station. In our experience, the station stayed pretty true to the music the station was based on. We didn't get any sad music on our happy station, and we didn't get any Britney Spears on our Social Distortion station (thank goodness). The only caveat is that, like most streaming services, you have a song skip limit. For Magic Radio, it is 6 songs per hour. So if your station plays a particularly long stretch of music you don't want to listen to, you may have to suffer until the next hour starts sometimes.
On the bottom of the play screen are the play and skip buttons. There seems to be a skip backward button, but it was grayed out the entire time we've used Magic Radio so far. On the bottom left is a button that will take you to a menu screen where you can buy the song you're currently listening to should you want it or ban it from your station permanently. It also shows the equalizer and Tune Station settings. The equalizer is a premium add-on and costs extra money. The Tune Station settings are pretty nifty, though. You can use the settings to determine whether your station plays faster or slower songs and dictate how close your station sticks to the artist it's based on. The bottom right button takes you to a list of songs that were played on that station so you can go back and find a song you liked.
Of course, no modern mobile application is without social media sharing capabilities. Magic Radio is no different. You can share to Twitter and Facebook along with pretty much any other social media site you can think of. It can be shared via email and Google Drive. When you share what you're listening to, the links take people to an online card of the song where people can choose to buy it, watch the music video if applicable, and find out other info. Sadly, it won't actually play the song.
A couple of miscellaneous features we found were some improved lock screen controls and a method to create new stations based on songs playing on a current station. The lock screen settings are nice because it actually comes up above your whole lock screen. From there you have your standard music controls and the ability to unlock the phone from there. If there's a song you particularly loved on one of your stations and want to make a new station based on that artist or song, you can click the bottom left button where you can select the band or the song and Magic Radio will create a new station.
Overall, Magic Radio by doubleTwist feels like a complete music streaming service. There is nothing difficult or confusing about the application, it has all the features you'd find in an app like Pandora, it has a gigantic library, and it even did fairly well when searching for obscure artists. For $4 a month, this is definitely a service worth owning if you're into music streaming on your phone. Of course, if you have your own massive library and don't use streaming very often, the $4 a month can feel like a rip off. This is definitely for people who depend more on apps like Pandora than their own personal collection for music.
Magic Radio isn't all sunshine and puppy dogs though. There were a couple of things we didn't like about the app. The first, as mentioned above, is the song skip limit. When a station plays a string of bad songs, you can end up stuck listening to it because of the song skip limit. The only other thing we weren't fond of is that there isn't a free version of this. Even if it were ad supported, a free version of this would've been nice to see. However, doubleTwist stuck with a full, premium-only service with Magic Radio.
If you want to give Magic Radio a try, just grab the doubleTwist app from the Google Play Store, open it, and give it a whirl. We'd love to hear what you guys thought of it too, so feel free to leave a comment with your own experience with Magic Radio. Also, don't forget to check out Android Authority's Google+ page for the March 14th episode of Android Authority On Air to watch a live interview with doubleTwist Chief Creative Officer Sebastiaan de With.