Apps to tap into YouTube music

14 March 2014

Here at WhistleOut, we are huge fans of streaming music services. Whether it’s Spotify, Rdio, Deezer, or a streaming radio station like Pandora, we have one or more of these apps installed on our phones and pay a monthly subscription.

But is you have a taste for live or obscure music, or you don’t want to pay a subscription fee, YouTube is a great alternative to all of these. The only problem is that on a phone you need to keep the YouTube app open while the music plays. You can’t setup a playlist, then turn the screen off and put your phone in your pocket. Unless you choose not to use the default YouTube app.

We’ve picked a favourite app on both iOS and Android for playing just the audio from YouTube music videos, both of which have the ability to continue playing the music as a background task.

Tuner for YouTube (iPhone and iPad)

If you have an Apple phone or tablet, we recommend checking out Tuner for YouTube (App Store link). It has an awesome, clean user interface, and easy access to features like being able to create and curate playlists full of songs. There are also stacks of suggested playlists too, which can be a great way to get started.

Better still, Tuner for YouTube is Airplay ready, so you can use your phone to dig up the tracks you want to listen to, then stream them to a compatible speaker system, or through your Apple TV. Our only major grip with Tuner is that there is no way to scrub forward in tracks, though this might not be a major problem for most people. It’s also a bit flaky in its current state (version 1.0.1) and we found we had to close it down and reopen it a few times to get it working smoothly. But hey, it’s free.

Just remember, when you’re searching for this app to use the whole name ‘Tuner for YouTube’ otherwise you will be flooded by apps that help you tune a guitar or similar.

uListen (Android)

It doesn’t have the same gorgeous UI that you’ll find in Tuner on iOS, but uListen (Play Link) is probably the better app for the purpose. You start with a blank screen and a search bar, and the rest is up to you — there is no pre-created playlist suggestions or Top 100s here.

But you don’t get a bit more control. Creating your own playlists is super easy; either by pressing on the star icon in a track, or by pressing and holding on a search result. Moving between a page of search results and the ‘now playing’ track is a simple vertical swipe across the screen.

uListen also has a built-in sleep timer, indicated by a little bed icon on the ‘now playing’ screen. You can set the duration in the app settings, plus choose whether the app should let the last song finish, or cut out as soon as the time elapses.

We've tested an ad-supported version of uListen, and it works a treat, but there is also an ad-free version available.

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