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The 18 best audio apps

Favourite mobile, web and desktop apps

PC Advisor presents the best digital audio apps for Google Android, BlackBerry and Apple iPhone, and recommends the best utilities and online applications for your desktop or laptop PC.

One problem with listening to digital music on the go is the need to wear headphones or earphones. You can't hear what's happening around you, which can leave you vulnerable to traffic and other dangers (as well as missing out on important office gossip). Awareness, an app for Android and iPhone, aims to address this very issue, monitoring background noise while you rock out to Roxette. Sounds louder than the usual hubbub are flagged up onscreen. See essency.co.uk for more. • £1.79

There are dozens and dozens of music-related apps out there, so there's no excuse for sticking with Apple iTunes or Windows Media Player. If you are an iTunes fan, however, you'll find excellent integration with your iTunes library on BlackBerry handsets. • Free

JamCast works in a similar way to those video-streaming apps that allow you to access music stored on your home PC and listen to it from elsewhere. Since bandwidth can be a bit of an issue, the JamCast developers have stuck to music streaming for this cool application, which works over the web and is about to go live on Android. • Free

FlowSongs is a music app that works with Pure's range of web-connected digital and internet radios. Using the Shazam music-recognition application and the 7digital music download store, it allows you to click to tag a song you hear play, save it for later playback or buy it for playback on any device you choose. • £2.99/year; 79p/track

Another slightly different take on music download and ownership is offered by MusicAnywhere, a service dreamt up by The Carphone Warehouse that launched in the UK this summer. • £29/year

Napster was once a real rival to MSN Music and Apple iTunes, but has been fairly quiet of late. However, newer services such as Spotify are proving there's interest in subscription-music services of this type and Napster certainly isn't done yet. Partnerships with music-hardware manufacturers such as Samsung and Philips, and with Logitech on its popular Logitech Squeezebox, have extended the reach of the buy-or-try service. Intriguingly, Spotify has recently introduced a similar idea for pricey Sonos home music-streaming players. • From free

Spotify certainly seems to have taken over where Napster once reigned. It's a free music-streaming and -subscription service that lets you create and save playlists and share them on Facebook, your website or blog and Twitter. The £5-per-month Premium version allows you to excise the annoying commercial breaks, while a £9.99-per-month version adds the option of downloading albums and playlists to listen to offline or on an MP3 player. • £5/month (Premium)
 
Podcast fans should check out Beyond­Pod. This integrates with the Android or Windows Mobile music player and allows you to discover and manage audio and video podcasts. The premium version adds better controls for updating and managing subscriptions. • Free (Basic); $7 (Premium)

Get your groove on: find and stream an amazing variety of music, hassle-free, with Grooveshark. Play individual songs or whole albums, or create your own playlists. • Free
 
Popular on the web and within Facebook, music app Last.fm is in essence a customisable radio station. Enter the name of an artist you like, and the app recommends other artists based on your preferences. You can listen to as much music as you want, too. • Free

The Listen Android app helps you search for thousands of audio feeds, stream them, or subscribe to them. It integrates with Google Reader on the desktop as well. • Free

Want to identify that song you keep hearing everywhere you go? Launch the Shazam app, hold your smartphone up to your radio's speaker, and in a flash it displays the name of the song and the artist. • Free (Basic)
 
Thumbplay allows BlackBerry users to get in on the on-demand music, with unlimited access to any artist or album. You can build playlists within the app, listen either online or offline, and sync existing music from your PC or Mac. • Free
 
We7 is another hybrid music-download and -streaming service that's caught our eye. Non-subscribers get access to a wealth of playlists, albums and suggested listens to enjoy locally and share via social media. Becoming a We7 member lets you make your playlists accessible on your Android, iPod touch or iPhone. • Free (with ads); £4.99/month (ad-free); £9.99/month (mobile)

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