Photo used under Creative Commons from Marina K Caprara
Anyone who has traveled with children knows that even the shortest road trip can be fraught with cries of boredom, whining, and repeated claims of being annoyed by a sibling. Often, just the thought of enduring a lengthy car ride with more than one child can send parents racing to the medicine cabinet for earplugs and ibuprofen.
Fortunately, “packing” a good selection of music can make almost any trip enjoyable. Custom music playlists offer a chance to break out some old favorites, introduce your child to some new classics, and bond over the tunes of days gone by. Before you start loading the trunk, grab your smart phone or tablet and load one of these apps with your favorite tunes.
Best Apps for iOS
In an effort to protect artists from illegal music distribution, Apple removed most music streaming apps from the App Store, leaving music lovers scrambling to find ways to listen to their favorite tunes. However, the following apps are still available:
One of the most popular iOS apps, Spotify has an easy-to-understand interface, clearly organized music tracks, and a streaming service that provides unlimited access to thousands of songs. Spotify lets you create playlists based on musical genres, bands, or albums. If you have a paid membership, you can also download songs to devices for listening offline. This is particularly useful if you don’t want to use Wi-Fi or if you want more control over your listening options.
2. Free MP3Box
A beautifully designed app, Free MP3Box allows you access to streaming videos and music tracks based on YouTube searches. Simply enter a song, artist, album, or hashtag as a search query, and Free MP3Box returns a list of options. You can create your own custom station with all the music that corresponds to a particular theme or sound. Add your list to favorites and you can come back to it again and again. Another important feature is the ability to turn off the video feed, which can minimize data usage.
One of the newer entries into music streaming, SoundCloud differs from the other apps in that it lets novice producers and recording artists publish their songs on the app, thereby enabling you to listen to up-and-coming names, in addition to famous musicians. SoundCloud also allows you to share your favorite songs in your profile, so your friends and followers can view your musical collection. By following musicians, you receive notifications of new releases and tracks as soon as they become available to the public.
Best Apps for Android
There are plenty of apps that let you listen to songs on Android devices. As with iOS applications, these downloads are free, but you might have to pay a monthly subscription to enjoy the full benefits of each app.
1. iTube Music
One of the most popular Android music players, iTube Music is great for both downloading and streaming music. It boasts a large library of free MP3 tracks, which enables you to create unlimited playlists. In addition, iTube Music has no in-app purchases.
With its classic feel, 4Shared gives you free access to a wide range of music. Downloading classic songs as well as new, yet-to-be-discovered artists is easy with the user-friendly interface and cloud storage options. Have songs already on your device? With 4Shared, you can upload them to your cloud storage folder for easy access and playlist building. This app is also useful for offline listening, which comes in handy during those long car rides.
3. Google Play Music
Another popular option for Android users, Google Play Music has a database of more than 50,000 songs. The app lets you subscribe to podcasts, develop playlists, receive smart recommendations based on your preferences, and build a collection of favorite songs.
No matter what type of phone you have, or where your summer travel plans will take you, make sure you take along some of your favorite songs. This will not only help fill the long gaps of silence (or drown out the whining from the backseat), it will also give you a chance to share some of your favorite tunes with your kids. Expanding their musical horizons, while giving them a glimpse into the music of your youth can help springboard conversations about how music has changed and what constitutes good music. Who knows? You may even hear your kids humming some of your favorite tunes long after the car ride is over.
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