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Android app PLAY by AOL lets you share music and learn about new artists

by Caitlin M. Foyt

PLAY by AOL Music for your Android phone allows you to share what you're listening to with friends, and discover new artists and songs from other PLAY users.

The fact that there are so many different kind of genres and subgenres of music on the Internet intimidates me. My brain feels like it's going to explode when I think about the subgenres of punk rock. This is why it's good that apps like PLAY exist.

To start, follow your Facebook and Twitter friends. The app will automatically load up the music you already have on your Android device, so you can immediately share what you're listening to via the real-time feed.

A major plus about these feeds, however, is that they aren't just other PLAY users. When you're posting what you're listening to, you have the option of sharing your beats, complete with album art and song information, on Twitter and Facebook, too. Friends who are also constantly on the prowl for new material can probably give you some constructive feedback here, and even predict what other artists you might enjoy.

To branch out and learn about new bands or new-to-you bands, though, you can look to see what your friends and like-minded strangers are listening to. Or, if you want to just take a shot in the dark, you can check out some of the latest music the app posts under "MP3 of the Day," "SXSW Tracks" and "Live Video From SXSW" tabs on the app's main screen.

While my key concern should probably be on how the app's music player works or how the app works as a whole, I have to first note how impressed I was by PLAY's layout and design. The app looks like it means business, with its shades of gray and font branding, but it also carefully uses colors, photos and fun icons to appeal to people of all ages.

I really liked that the app had its own music player, so you don't have to leave the application to hear a song. The exception here, of course, is the PLAY Live Videos, where you are transferred out to the web. The good news is that these videos buffer very quickly, and are of very high visual quality.

I did have an issue when sharing to my own songs, though. The app failed as I was notified, and while I wasn't completely booted from the app, I did have to reattempt to share my song a handful of times before it went through.

Another complaint I have about PLAY is that it doesn't display an icon in the status bar — so if you're listening to music, but don't have the app open at that moment, you have to open PLAY from your app library to make any adjustments.

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