I may betray my age but I don’t stream all that much music from the web. Typically I listen on a local device, but as I added music and wanted to listen to it from more places, I’ve needed apps to help out. The best apps I’ve found have allowed me to select a music input that is not a PC and output it to a variety of devices.
A long time ago …
Qualcomm created the first app that I used for this purpose. It was called Skifta and was simple and worked great. Our setup has always used a media server – first miniDLNA and then an OEM version of Twonky – that was installed as part of the base software on our internal network drives. The miniDLNA was a bit of a pain to administer, but both it and Twonky offer iTunes server functions. Twonky is just a much nicer, browser-based interface.
There are plenty of apps that will play to just your device. Of those, I prefer Kodi, because it can play such a variety of things. But if I want my device to just be the picker, not the server or player, Skifta was a better choice.
Skifta, and the other apps described below, had 3 steps: choose your music source, choose your playback device, and choose your music. You could play a local device to a receiver, a network device to a receiver, etc. Unfortunately, it was a project that was dropped in 2014. It was the first app that made me start using APK extractor apps to back up my paid or free apps (not the ones used under an ongoing license) in case they disappear from the app stores. The extracted APK can be reinstalled on other devices, so I can keep Skifta around even as I move to a new phone.
After Skifta, I looked around for other apps that might offer additional functionality. There are some but they seem to rely heavily on running some app or function on your PC. I was really looking for something like Skifta, but more so.
I came across ShareOn Audio, a free app on Android. It had a slightly kludy interface and it wasn’t always clear what you were supposed to do. But after a bit of playing around, it became clear how to go through the same 3 stages. I used ShareOn off and on until I started noticing that more and more of my latest music additions were causing a not supported error when selected. It wasn’t clear to me if this was the mp3 or m4a file type, a bitrate problem, or what.
Most recently I’ve been using the Hi-Fi Cast DLNA, which has a free nag version and a paid version. Hi-Fi Cast is probably what Skifta could have become. It’s got the nicest interface of all of these apps, and is much easier to manage queues and scroll through albums. I was having some difficulty with the album list (1600+ albums) reloading after awhile and the developer was very responsive with advice.
I use Hi-Fi Cast most frequently now, but it has two major drawbacks. On our internal network, if another user is ALSO running Hi-Fi cast, even if they’re streaming, they can see the music that I have queued up. Occasionally the app gets confused, and will play the last song THEY have in their queue. It also doesn’t always cleanly die, so I can turn off (power off) a device and it may keep playing. Since my device isn’t required – the media is traveling from a server to a remote player, I’m just calling the dances – that makes sense but can be a hassle.
I’ve reinstalled Skifta just for those times when I want to start up a full album and not fuss with anything else. But Hi-Fi Cast will probably remain my primary app.