iOS Media Players

While the Music app that Apple has included on all of their iOS devices is functional, it isn't one that meets the expectations for many music fans with deep libraries with curated metadata. From a design perspective, of course it follows Apple's key structure. It is fully integrated into the previous iTunes (Windows) and current MacOS Music for handling the process of getting local media from your home computer to your device. But it is clear that their direction is to push to the subscription and streaming services they offer.

There are an incredible number of player apps available in the App store, but few of them stray too far from the original design of Apple's Music, with most sharing the backbone of the iOS music library and even using the player engine for playback. There are some notable exceptions though. There are a couple I have used that share a design from Android. These two are opposite ends of the spectrum that are built for iOS.

Foobar2000 is currently a free app that shares a build from the Android world. It offers the same simple/minimalistic design but allows you to browse your library in more detailed ways than the Music app, and plays many more file formats (i.e. FLAC). I find it far more usable than the cluttered Music app.

Neutron is a paid app, built on their same platform that is used universally for all of the systems they support. Other than a few iOS specific options it adds, and those from Android that don't exist in iOS, the UI and playback tuning and sound are identical. There are far more options here than any other media player on iOS. The only limitations are the capabilities of the DACs, where most iOS devices have a maximum output handling of 24 bit depth and 48kHz sampling rate. This can be bypassed for external devices with some lightning adapters, including headphone dongles and other external DACs. This is the audio tweaker's app of choice for iOS.